Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Case of Egypt

When Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi beat out former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafikhe he became the country's first democratically elected president. It was an enormoous victory for Egyptian people, and arguably helped fuel the fire of a peoples' uprisings now commonly referred to the Arab Spring. When Morsi took power he faced immediate issues with the ruling military council. However, in more recent days he has faced a even bigger problem; dealing with a largely upset local population. While the promise of Morsi's victory by democratic election spoke the possibility of a revolution of government by the people, sweeping reforms of power set in place to hold him as the ultimate authority, until a constitution is drawn, has what's caused Egyptian people to take to the streets in protest. Although Western media centers have largely negatively critiqued the uprisings in Egypt, playing the hegemony card during the movement proclaiming, "what will they do now with no government or leader," the promise of a democratically elected president has remained salient. That is, until Morsi decided to apply dictor-like rules on his people until a constitution is set in place. Even more recently has taken steps to absolve himself from judicial oversight. While people marched in protest today reportedly no less than eight Egyptian newspapers also held a strike due to alleged restrictions they feel Morsi is placing on freedom of speech in the proposed constitution. The promise was so bright in this grassroots for the people, by the people movement. In this day and age it is one of the most profound social movements of the time. Has it been killed by another elitist attempt to control power in the midts of political turmoil? Is Morsi doing what "must" be done in order to bring about stability to his country in a time of instability? Is there a way Egypt can still attain a sense of true democracy through this turmoil? For the people a supporter of peace, justice and sustainability would hope so. See for full course schedule

Saturday, November 3, 2012

According To A New Report, Global Inequality Reaches Highest Level in 20 Years

Save the Children just released a report pointing to global inequalities in wealth are not only growing, but they are currently at their highest level in the past 20 years.

Here are a few words by the BBC:

Global inequalities in wealth are at their highest level for 20 years and are growing, according to a new report by Save The Children. While the charity acknowledges progress has been made in goals such as reducing child mortality, the report says this has been uneven across income groups.

Continuing inequality could hinder further progress in improving living standards, the charity says. The report comes ahead of a meeting of a high-level UN panel on poverty. "In recent decades the world has made dramatic progress in cutting child deaths and improving opportunities for children; we are now reaching a tipping point where preventable child deaths could be eradicated in our lifetime," Save the Children's chief executive, Justin Forsyth, said. "Unless inequality is addressed... any future development framework will simply not succeed in maintaining or accelerating progress. What's more, it will hold individual countries - and the world - back from experiencing real growth and prosperity," Mr Forsyth added.

Save The Children's researchers found that in most of the 32 developing countries they looked at, the rich had increased their share of national income since the 1990s. In a fifth of the countries, the incomes of the poorest had fallen over the same period. The gap has become particularly pronounced among children and affects their well-being as well as causing disparities in several key indicators, the charity says. For example, it notes that in Tanzania, child mortality in the richest fifth of the population fell from 135 to 90 per 1,000 births over the research period, while the poorest fifth saw hardly any progress with a modest fall of 140 to 137 per 1,000 births.

Here's the link to the full report: After reading through this report what questions do you have? See for full course schedule

Thursday, October 18, 2012

WTF is up with Sanctioned Drone Bombing by the US?

Today, a story was released speaking to seven suspected militants that were killed due to an US drone bomb attack in Yemen.

A drone bombing is essentially an attack by an aircraft that is not flown by a human in the physical sense. It's argued that he CIA controls  these unmanned planes that have officially been described as an effort to deal with terrorism in Pakistan although more and more instances are taking place in Yemen. The US rational for these attacks is the "war on terror". Targeted militants have been killed, but the most alarming aspect to these efforts is the amount of innocent lives lost.

Here's a headline that speaks to the issue:

Drone attacks kill 80% innocent people: Malik (Pakistan Observer) Islamabad—Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Wednesday that the majority of those killed in drone attacks were innocent people. According to Malik, only 20 percent of those killed in drone attacks were militants while the rest were innocent people. Speaking to the media outside Parliament, Malik said there were 336 drone attacks conducted in Pakistan in which 2,300 people were killed. He added that 96 cross border attacks were launched from Afghanistan. When asked about an operation in North Waziristan, Malik claimed that no statements were made regarding this matter.

Earlier in Senate, the minister said that the government had not yet decided any operation in North Waziristan. He added that civilian and military leadership would take final decision regarding the operation. He said that head money for Taliban’s spokesperson Ahsanullah Ahsan has been set. He added that his photos would be released soon. Malik said that government would continue fighting against terrorists. The government would continue fighting against terrorists, he added. Names of those supporting Taliban should also come on front.Terming Taliban “Zaliman”, he said that government could talk with them if Zaliman surrender their weapons. —Online

Recently, hundreds marched in opposition to the attacks:

How can sustainability, peace and justice ever be reached when such a disregard for the life and environment of other people half-way around the world are treated in such a manner?

A few more resources to get educated:

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Friday, September 14, 2012

From the Arctic to your Gas Tank-Is the Petroleum Industry a Private Empire?

Steve Coll sure thinks so. Recently, the author has published a book titled, "Private Empire: ExxonMobil And American Power". Although Shell has been garnering the most recent attention in the Arctic, after President Obama allowed "preemptive drilling" moves where the corporation has been allowed to get ready to drill in the Arctic, but just not start yet (does that make any sense?), this book by Steve Coll is as timely as ever.

 Every day the Arctic gets closer and closer to being turned into a full petroleum export location. It's already been happening on the North Slope for years, but now with the lowest amount of seas ice in decades corps like Shell aren't seeing that as a potential threat to humanity and the planet, but rather the chance to increase their profits. Never mind the areas oil corporations are looking to tap in the Arctic, and the great impacts to ecosystem health, Indigenous peoples, and wildlife that will come about, this time period might just turn out to be one that humans in the future look back on and ask why these corporations were allowed to bring such drastic impacts to life on this planet for a finite source of energy "we" knew was going to run out sooner or later.

Check out this transcript from a Democracy Now! interview, do a little research, maybe pick up Steve's book. If you're alive today this issue will influence you in some way, shape or form and there's no better time to get educated on the issue than now. Oil on Ice is also an excellent documentary to introduce you to the holistic sustainability issues involved with drilling in the Arctic, particularly the area known as ANWR (

Interview: JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to look at one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the country: ExxonMobil. In the hour it takes for this show to broadcast, ExxonMobil will earn almost $5 million in profit. Last week, the corporate giant reported that it had earned nine-and-a-half billion dollars in profits in the first three months of this year, or almost $104 million per day. Earlier this week, ExxonMobil signed a contract with the Iraqi Drilling Company in Basra to drill 20 oil wells in one of world’s largest undeveloped fields with recoverable oil reserves. Iraq is expected to be the world’s biggest source of new oil supplies over the next few years after signing contracts for big development projects with major oil companies. This is ExxonMobil vice president, Jon Penn.

JON PENN: The contract that we’re executing with IDC is for 20 drill wells in West Qurna-1, for a value of $124 million. It is an important step that we take with IDC today and is a historic moment for our continuing partnership with SOC as well as our partners.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined right now by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Steve Coll, who pulls back the curtain on Exxon in his exhaustive new book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. Steve Coll is president of the New America Foundation and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Previously, he was managing editor at the Washington Post, has also been a reporter, foreign correspondent and editor at the Washington Post. He was awarded his second Pulitzer Prize for his book Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the C.I.A., Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. He is also author of The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century. Steve Coll, welcome to Democracy Now! Let us start with the title of your new book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. Explain.

 STEVE COLL: Well, ExxonMobil, I came to think as I worked on this over four years, really sees itself as an independent sovereign in the world, and one that is almost the equivalent of a state. And it makes sense, when you look at their revenue of just under $500 billion a year. That’s actually more than the size of the economies of most of the countries in the world. It’s about the same as the economy of Norway. And then the private part is that they really are one of the most closed corporations headquartered in the United States. They work on a closed system, and they don’t invite scrutiny. And in fact, as I worked on this project, which was hard, I really was struck by how—for myself as a journalist, over a long period of time, you know, I had spent so much time focusing on governments, trying to understand how they exercise power, and I came to realize that right in our midst are these very large and important institutions that are hardly ever scrutinized in the way—in the ways that journalists try to do.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Steve Coll, you especially spend a lot of time in terms of the policies of ExxonMobil through two chiefs now, corporate chiefs, in regard to climate change. Could you talk about that and how the policy has evolved for the company?

STEVE COLL: Yeah, so, of course, in 1997, the Kyoto Accords were signed and contemplated a global regime to put a price on carbon-based fuels in order to create economic incentives to move away from coal and oil toward more sustainable fuels that would reduce the risks of global warming. Now, the Kyoto Accords were unpopular in the United States for lots of reasons, partly because they didn’t ask developing countries to do the same things that they asked industrialized countries to do and so forth. But ExxonMobil took a really radical approach to the challenge of Kyoto, in my judgment. They funded, sometimes surreptitiously, free market groups and communications firms to challenge the science of global warming itself—not the economic bargain or the political bargain of Kyoto, but the science, to raise doubt about whether global warming was occurring at all, and if it was, whether it was a serious risk. They really polluted the public atmosphere in Washington through this funding campaign. And they were really unusual, even among the many corporations that didn’t like Kyoto, in taking this anti-science approach. Now, other groups fought back. Greenpeace and environmental investigators, scientists and congressional investigators eventually, over the eight years between 1997 and 2005, they exposed a lot of ExxonMobil’s activity and really embarrassed them by comparing them to the tobacco industry, which had undertaken similar efforts to undermine the science demonstrating the dangers of smoking. So, by 2005, the chief executive who had overseen this, and who was openly skeptical that the world was warming at all, a guy named Lee Raymond, he retired. And his successor, I think, came in thinking, "We’ve got a problem we need to address. We’re a very large corporation. We’ve got lots of employees and shareholders. We really can’t be in such an outlier position." So they slowly started to change. Initially they said, "We were never wrong. We were only misunderstood." And they tried to fashion a communications campaign around that. But more recently, in 2009, they actually announced their support for a tax on carbon, which at least is the first time that our largest oil company has acknowledged that the risks of global warming are so significant that it requires imposing a tax on carbon-based fuels to incent change.

AMY GOODMAN: In later March, the Senate failed to pass a measure that would end billions of dollars in tax breaks for large oil companies. The measure failed on a 51-47 vote, short of the 60 needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster. President Obama called on lawmakers to choose between oil companies and the American people.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today, members of Congress have a simple choice to make: they can stand with the big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people. It’s not as if these companies can’t stand on their own. Last year, the three biggest U.S. oil companies took home more than $80 billion in profits. Exxon pocketed nearly $4.7 million every hour. And when the price of oil goes up, prices at the pump go up, and so do these companies’ profits.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Obama. Steve Coll, talk about the relationship of ExxonMobil with the Democrats and with the Republicans and the level to which they’re involved in U.S. politics and elections today.

STEVE COLL: Well, they’re very involved with U.S. politics. They run a Washington office that between roughly 1998 and 2011 spent $169 million on lobbying. That was the third most among American-headquartered corporations over that period. And in some years, they were extremely active on Capitol Hill and at the White House lobbying for their positions. They also run a political action committee that makes contributions to candidates for office. What was interesting about digging into the records of the political action committee is that ExxonMobil, really alone among large American corporations that has a political action committee strategy, is—gives almost all of its money to Republicans. Ninety percent of their contributions in the 2010 cycle went to Republican candidates. And in 2012, this cycle, they’ve been even more extreme in that way. It was interesting. You know, a lot of companies that you might think of as parts of the Republican Party or aligned with the Republican Party—Wal-Mart or Dow Chemical—they split their money pretty evenly between the two parties. So ExxonMobil, you know, they say that this is a result of scientific analysis of where their interests lie in Washington, but it’s unusual, I think, for—in a democracy, for such a large and important institution to throw its weight on one side of the partisan divide. I think the example you gave about those oil subsidies is a pretty good case study of how ExxonMobil works in Washington. They are unpopular. You know, they don’t have so many friends that they can enact any bill they want. But what they’re great at is blocking things. And so, that 51-47 vote you described is typical of the results they can achieve.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And Steve Coll, to get back to this issue of climate change, obviously ExxonMobil is a company that bases a lot of its work on scientific exploration of its geologists. You point out that some of their geologists see climate change as an opportunity for the company. Could you talk about that?

STEVE COLL: Well, it’s opening up oil that was previously sealed off by ice, basically, is one way to look at it. Right just this last couple of years, ExxonMobil has been going back to Russia and, last year, signed a very large-scale agreement with one of Russia’s largest oil companies, Rosneft, to explore and develop oil in the Arctic, above the Arctic Circle. Now, the reason that oil is accessible at all—it’s going to be hard, because even with global warming, it’s still cold up there—but that oil was inaccessible 15, 20 years ago, and the reason this deal is possible is because sea ice has been retreating very rapidly over the last 10 years and especially in the summer months. So, I mean, that’s the most transparent, explicit example of this. But what the book also describes, as you point out, is that geologists inside their exploration department were basically asked at a certain stage to look at all the ways in which a warmer planet might free up opportunities in oil and gas discovery and drilling.

AMY GOODMAN: Steve Coll, let’s go to some of the examples. In 2001, 11 Indonesian villagers filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against ExxonMobil for alleged human rights abuses. The villagers say they and their relatives were tortured, were killed, were sexually assaulted by a 3,000-strong Indonesian military unit hired by Exxon to protect a gas pipeline and liquefaction plant in northern Aceh. One of the survivors shared his story with Al Jazeera. This is just a clip.

INDONESIAN VILLAGER: [translated] I was riding along the road and was stopped by soldiers on motorbikes. It was August 1999. They were Exxon security forces, many of them. There was lots of shooting, and I fell off my bike. They thought I was one of the rebel fighters, but I wasn’t. They blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back and threw me into a military truck and took me to Ramcung.

AMY GOODMAN: That, an excerpt of one of the survivors. I’ll never forget, Steve, seeing the Businessweek big spread, when it was just mobile, with a man holding a skull in Aceh, and the headline was "What Mobil Knew," about Mobil selling excavation equipment to the—or giving to the Indonesian government, and they would excavate mass graves to put the bodies in. Talk about Aceh. And we just have a minute.

STEVE COLL: Yeah, so I went out to look into this case for all the reasons you find it compelling, traveled to Aceh, interviewed victims. The new information that I was able to bring forward involves Freedom of Information Act requests that unearthed State Department cables showing the interactions between ExxonMobil and the U.S. government, the Bush administration, as this threat through a lawsuit became more serious. And then, secondly, this lawsuit that you reference is still going on, and enormous amounts of materials have been discovered by the attorneys and slowly are coming onto the record, so I was able to bring forward emails and documents from inside ExxonMobil showing how this war, in effect, was carried out.

AMY GOODMAN: Steve Coll is president of the New America Foundation, staff writer at The New Yorker. His new book is called Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. We will continue part two after the broadcast. We’re going to be playing this on Monday, so do tune in. Steve Coll has won the Pulitzer Prize twice.
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Friday, August 3, 2012

Nice Work Anti-Nuclear Activists!!!

This piece of news comes from Democracy Now!

Congratulations are in order for this committed group to not only help shut down this unnecessary facility, but to get the attention of the nation with their efforts as well!

 U.S. Shuts Down Tennessee Uranium Facility After Anti-Nuclear Protesters Infiltrate

 The U.S. government’s lone site for handling and processing weapons-grade uranium has been temporarily shut down after anti-nuclear activists infiltrated the premises. Three activists — including an 82-year old nun — reportedly cut through fences to paint slogans and throw blood on the wall of the Y12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Y12 facility processes uranium for new hydrogen bombs. Calling themselves the "Transform Now Plowshares," the three activists appeared before a U.S. magistrate judge in Knoxville on Thursday. The facility will remain shut down at least until next week. U.S. officials have maintained no nuclear materials were jeopardized, but experts have marveled at how a small group could have infiltrated the high-risk site. One former congressional investigator and security consultant called the breach the "worst we’ve ever seen."

 Wow, nice work ladies and gents! Here's a few other links to what went down:

 Not to mention what's been going on in Japan...

We know by now that nuclear energy is costly and has catastrophic potential issues for people and the planet. Is it worth it? Only if you want to support the hegemonic powers that be and their continued efforts to be intimidating world powers. See for full course schedule

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is it Worth it to Keep Fixing Such an Obviously Broke System?

What will it take for a critical mass in the U.S. to answer this question honestly, and put forth efforts to learn from the mistakes of the past and take meaningful steps towards creating a future that's vibrant for all living creatures? At the core of all issues across the planet are the governmental bodies that perpetuate ills socially and environmentally. If you haven't yet had the epiphany that Republicans aren't that different than Democrats it's time for some summer reading! Although on a whole the U.S. system is and has been deeply flawed for some time, and continues to perpetuate mass ills for many, with well-being for a few, one way to keep one foot in and one foot out is to support third party politics in the upcoming election. The two party system is a direct representation of the falsity of this so called American democracy, and while the system as a whole is broke, the least one can do while it still exists-besides lobbying for ways to dismantle it and change it for the betterment of all-is to support people like Jill Stein.

The Green Party recently nominated the physician and activist for the upcoming election. Jill's running mate is the anti-poverty activist Cheri Honkala. In reality, parties attached to this ongoing system will not and can not bring the change necessary to those of us who believe in a justice centered world for all. However, the reality is this system continues to thrive, and unfortunately even the failures of the first African-American president, who ran on "Hope and Change", have still not shown people that it doesn't matter who the president is so long as corporations run the government and capitalism is the financial, economic and political ideology that rules. At the same time this upcoming election and its winners will shape American life to some degree so like capitalism "we" must play the game as its forces play on us, so let's educate ourselves on what's wrong, why it continues to be wrong, and beyond advocating for total change support those who shift the current paradigm enough so others might be more open to seeking the true answer outside of the political shackles that continue to rule 99.9% of the world.

A quote from Jill: "I strongly agree that grassroots democracy grows from the local community up, but at the same time, we have a state of emergency I think at the national level. And to silence the only hope of an opposition voice in this election when so much is at stake, I think would be a terrible loss for the American people. There’s no reason why Americans should have to walk into the voting booth in November and have only, effectively, two Wall Street-sponsored choices."
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Earth is at a "Tipping Point"

While many who actively follow issues related to health and well-being of the earth have already known this for years, a new study in the journal Nature is making waves. The article points to a cumulative effect of climate change, population growth and the continued destruction and damage done to environmental systems across the globe that are leading to a total planetary collapse of ecosystem health for future generations. The paper specifically says that the earth is at a "tipping point" right now, again, something many of you have known for many years. It's always interesting to note what sparks controversy in mainstream society and what articles, books, TV shows, and other forms of media go viral in today's globalized world. Well, a few years back it was peak oil, and now, on the heels of the Rio+20 that will be held this June, it seems that this article is turning heads. Why? In reality, it's no matter because it's true and has been true for quite some time. Climate change is the issues that has brought environmental issues to the forefront of the globalized world, and even though first world countries love to point at the "third world" for global population growth issues without adequately taking accountability for being the empires that helped create a model for countries like India and China to follow, the earth is clearly facing massive issues of ill health. While in the author's opinion no individual or anything human-based can and will ever truly kill this planet, it's very clear human can in fact have an impact on ecosystem health. As a species we may die-off before the earth can regenerate in peace, but as much as one can while they are still here and alive on this planet any and everything you can do to be in solidarity with social and environmental movements across the country is essential for the well-being of future generations to come. Take a minute and read up on what's being said about this article from the links I'll provide below, follow what goes down at the Rio+20, and stay engaged. One only needs to look into what's happening in Syria right now, across the Middle East, and on the streets of the NATO protests in Chicago to understand the "tipping point" has been here for quite some time, and isn't going anywhere anytime soon unless conscious efforts are made to combat war and systems of oppression while fighting for the healthiest options for our planet.,0,4125302.story See for full course schedule

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

99% Day!!!!

"No Work, No Shopping, Occupy Everywhere": May Day Special on OWS, Immigration, Labor Protests

 This is a nationwide day of solidarity on a day best known for immigrants rights or as International Worker's Day. If you're not out in the streets take some time to get educated and find some way to support the 99% and the fight for justice for all people on this planet, not just the 1% that systems of power are set in place to support! This link will bring you to a great video and discussion on the matter, courtesy of DemocracyNow!

This link is also interesting, especially for the racist, classist, and otherwise oppressive comments that speak to why this day is such an important one in the struggle for peace, justice, and sustainability.       See for full course schedule

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"War is the Enemy of the Poor": Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on Poverty, MLK, Election 2012

A must watch (last 10 minutes) video with two of the most influential and righteous Black scholars in the world today. Enjoy!

Thanks as always to Democracy Now!   See for full course schedule

Friday, March 2, 2012

Should Men Choose What Rights Women Have Over Their Own Bodies?

If you answered yes then you're reading the wrong blog. Or actually you're not and should keep reading to become better educated.

Recent news has been highlighting the struggle for women to maintain reproductive rights over their own bodies. Interestingly this debate has been tied to arguments surrounding religious freedom and those dogmatic institutions that put forth a belief system that women should not be able to obtain contraceptives.

The Personhood Bill is at the center of this reproductive debate regarding women and the reproductive rights women have in a lawful sense.

This article,

will fill you in more as will this current (3/1/12) headline from

Limbaugh Calls Student Birth Control Activist a "Slut"

The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate is expected to defeat a symbolic Republican-backed measure today that would exempt Catholic institutions from a White House mandate requiring birth control coverage. The right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh made headlines on Wednesday after calling a student reproductive rights activist "a slut" for campaigning in favor of contraception coverage for women. Limbaugh made the comment during a rant on his radio broadcast.

Rush Limbaugh: "What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."

The student, Sandra Fluke, is a third-year law student and a member of the group Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice. She was barred from testimony at an all-male panel on contraception on Capitol Hill last month. The day after her testimony was blocked, Fluke appeared on Democracy Now!

Sandra Fluke: "I strongly believe that our government has to legislate for reality, not ideology. So, if we don’t provide contraception coverage and healthcare, that’s not going to stop anyone from having sex, whether they should or should not be. And we really have to take care of women’s healthcare and not worry about policing their moral choices."

This link is a very useful resource that reminds us all that "isms" like sexism are unfortunately still alive and well and must continue to be combated by those who truly seek peace, justice, and sustainability!

See for full course schedule

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Syria and its Pro Democracy Uprising

The wave of action from "Arab Spring" has continued throughout the Middle East during this past year, and perhaps nowhere has the action been more chaotic and confrontational than Syria. Here are a few recent headlines as told by

U.N.: Syria Uprising Toll Passes 7,500

Syrian forces have launched a ground attack on the embattled city of Homs today after a nearly month-long siege. The neighborhood of Baba Amr reportedly came under heavy shelling overnight before Syrian troops swept in. The latest violence comes as the United Nations now says more than 7,500 people have been killed in the Assad regime’s crackdown on the nearly year-long uprising. U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe announced the new death toll figure in comments before the U.N. Security Council.

Lynn Pascoe: "The disproportionate use of force and military aggression against civilian population by authorities has driven the largely peaceful opposition forces to resort to armed resistance. While we cannot give exact casualty figures, there are credible reports that the death toll now often exceeds 100 civilians a day, including many women and children. The total killed so far is certainly well over 7,500 people."

13 Activists Killed Helping Evacuate British Photographer from Syria

A number of foreign journalists are said to be trapped in areas of Homs that are coming under heavy fire. On Tuesday, British photographer Paul Conroy was safely escorted to neighboring Lebanon by a group of Syrian activists. Thirteen of Conroy’s rescuers were reportedly killed in the escape. There were reports another journalist, Edith Bouvier of France, also escaped to Lebanon, but her status remains unconfirmed.

U.S. Drafts New U.N. Security Council Measure on Syria

The United States has reportedly drafted an outline for a new U.N. Security Council measure that would focus on delivering humanitarian aid to Syria. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney spoke about the effort on Tuesday.

Jay Carney: "I think that we need to focus on those actions which have the greatest chance of success. And that includes efforts to organize humanitarian aid. It includes efforts to further isolate and pressure Assad. It includes efforts to assist the Syrian opposition to organize itself and unify and then continue to work with our allies at the highest levels to examine additional steps that might be taken."

U.N. Human Rights Chief Calls for ICC Probe of Syrian Officials

At the United Nations, Syrian diplomats walked out of a U.N. Human Rights Council session on the crisis in Syria in protest of widespread criticism. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said she would back the investigation of Syrian officials by the International Criminal Court.

Navi Pillay: "In the face of the unspeakable violations that take place every moment, I remain convinced that referring the situation of Syria to the International Criminal Court will be a step in the right direction. The international community must unite in sending a clear message to the Syrian authorities, and the Security Council must assume its responsibility to protect the population of Syria."

An interesting story, "Foreign Intervention in Syria? A Debate with Joshua Landis and Karam Nachar"

No one wants lives to be taken and humans to suffer. Will the people's voices be listened to?

See for full course schedule

Monday, January 9, 2012

Closing Guantanamo and Ending the Death Penalty

From Amnesty International: Will you help us keep our New Year's resolutions to close Guantánamo and abolish the death penalty in 2012? On January 11th, Amnesty activists all across the West are marking the 10th anniversary of Guantánamo by joining the National Day of Action Against Guantánamo and calling for an end to indefinite detention and unfair trials. On MLK weekend, Amnesty activists in California are getting involved with the SAFE CA campaign's "Weekend of Action" to honor the legacy of Dr. King and end death sentences in our state.

Help us kick off 2012 by joining us for these historic efforts! Please check out the events listed below, or find other human rights events near you by visiting:

Happy New Year!
Rini Chakraborty
Western Regional Director
Amnesty International USA

California (Northern)

What: National Day of Action Against Guantánamo
When: Wednesday, January 11 at noon
Where: San Francisco, CA
Get specific event location
Description: Please join us on the 10th anniversary of Guantánamo for a protest and rally in San Francisco as 171 individuals - each representing a detainee still held at Guantánamo - form a human chain in front of the Federal Building and Courthouse. Help us show elected officials that citizens demand closure of Guantánamo and an end to unlawful detentions and human rights violations! Please wear orange or black, and bring signs that say "10 Years Too Many: No Guantánamo. No Torture. No Excuses!" For more information or to RSVP, please email Angela at or contact Amnesty's Western Regional Office at (415) 288-1800.

What: "Weekend of Action" to Honor Dr. King and End the Death Penalty in California
When: Saturday-Monday, January 14-16
Where: Various locations across the state
Get specific event location
Description: AIUSA is teaming up with the SAFE CA campaign, California NAACP, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and other civil rights leaders to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by ending death sentences in our state. Please join us January 14-16th for a "Weekend of Action" to participate in MLK events statewide and gather signatures to qualify the SAFE California Act for the November 2012 ballot. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Field Organizer William Butkus at or (415) 288-1800.

California (Southern)

What: National Day of Action Against Guantánamo
When: Wednesday, January 11
Where: Los Angeles, CA
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Description: This international day of protest marks the 10th anniversary of the Guantánamo prison and the human rights violations it represents, including torture, detention without charge, unfair trials, Islamaphobia, and impunity for crimes by US government officials. Join Amnesty International USA, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, CAIR-LA and other human rights organizations as we call for the immediate closure of Guantánamo. A silent vigil and press conference will be held at 9 a.m. at the Downtown Los Angeles Federal Building, located at Temple and Los Angeles Streets. The press conference will be followed by a flash mob at noon at Bruin Plaza on the UCLA Campus. The day will conclude with a rally from 4:00-5:30 p.m. at the Westwood Federal Building, located at Wilshire Blvd and Veteran Ave. in Westwood.

What: "A Day ON for Human Rights" to Honor Dr. King and End the Death Penalty in California
When: Sunday, January 15 from 9am to 4pm
Where: ACLU of Southern California
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Description: In honor of Dr. King's legacy, Amnesty USA activists in the greater Los Angeles Metro area will be dedicating Sunday, January 15th as a "Day ON for Human Rights." The "Day ON" will start with a general meet and greet and strategy session with LA Amnesty Activists. At noon, activists will be trained around messaging and signature gathering for the SAFE CA Campaign to end the death penalty in California. Directly following the training, activists will head into the field in team to collect signatures for the SAFE CA Campaign. After gathering signatures, teams will converge back at the ACLU office for a debrief and "Thank You" pizza party.


What: National Day of Action Against Guantánamo
When: Wednesday, January 11
Where: Seattle, WA
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Description: Join Washington State Religious Campaign Against Torture, Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation, Code Pink, ACLU of Washington, and other justice activists in marking the 10 year anniversary of the arrival of prisoners at Guantánamo. We will hold a candlelight vigil at the Jackson Federal Building on 2nd Avenue between Madison and Marion, 5:00-6:00pm. For more information contact Sara at (415)288-1800 or

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Not That Any Time Makes "Sense", But Why Now?

Environmental protections and safeguards. Unemployment levels in the workforce. Foreclosures. Vet's in need of shelter. People going hungry, in need of access to health care and education. The U.S. is arguably in its most brittle state as an empire since it began. Many residents need help and are hurting. No empire has ever been able to sustain itself with prolonged war. From Afghanistan to Iraq, to drones like the picture shown here bombing Pakistan, with increased threats of militarization to the Asia-Pacific and beyond. The economy continues to have a poor outlook amongst a deficit that is completely unreal in it's amount.

Why Now?

U.S. and Iran to Hold Major Military Exercises in the Persian Gulf

Iran and the United States have both announced plans to hold major military exercises in the Persian Gulf in the coming months. The U.S. exercise will be done in conjunction with Israel. Meanwhile, in defiance of the United States, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has welcomed Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Venezuela. On Friday, a State Department official said, "We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran."


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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Time Magazine's Person of the Year: THE PROTESTER!!!

"The times they are a changin'" could not be more truthful than at this beginning of the new year, 2012. In a surprising nomination Time Magazine has named its 2011 Person of the Year The Protester. We couldn't agree more, from OWS to the Middle East and beyond, 99% of the world's population is not okay with the economic, social, political, and environmental oppression employed by the top 1% or those who ascribe to be a part of the top 1%.

We encourage you to delve into this issue on Time, learn why they named The Protester person of the year, educate yourself on why this nomination matters, why people across the world are protesting, and how you are effected and can get involved.

A Happy and Just 2012 to all, let this year be the year for impartiality to rein free and rampant across this planet once and for all!


History often emerges only in retrospect. Events become significant only when looked back on. No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square in a town barely on a map, he would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Or that that spirit of dissent would spur Mexicans to rise up against the terror of drug cartels, Greeks to march against unaccountable leaders, Americans to occupy public spaces to protest income inequality, and Russians to marshal themselves against a corrupt autocracy.Protests have now occurred in countries whose populations total at least 3 billion people, and the word protest has appeared in newspapers and online exponentially more this past year than at any other time in history.

Is there a global tipping point for frustration? Everywhere, it seems, people said they'd had enough. They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change. And although it was understood differently in different places, the idea of democracy was present in every gathering. The root of the word democracy is demos, "the people," and the meaning of democracy is "the people rule." And they did, if not at the ballot box, then in the streets. America is a nation conceived in protest, and protest is in some ways the source code for democracy — and evidence of the lack of it.
The protests have marked the rise of a new generation. In Egypt 60% of the population is under the age of 25. Technology mattered, but this was not a technological revolution. Social networks did not cause these movements, but they kept them alive and connected. Technology allowed us to watch, and it spread the virus of protest, but this was not a wired revolution; it was a human one, of hearts and minds, the oldest technology of all.

Everywhere this year, people have complained about the failure of traditional leadership and the fecklessness of institutions. Politicians cannot look beyond the next election, and they refuse to make hard choices. That's one reason we did not select an individual this year. But leadership has come from the bottom of the pyramid, not the top. For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME's 2011 Person of the Year.

Read more:,28804,2101745_2102139_2102380,00.html #ixzz1iRddFyR0

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