the island of the week before: archives

category: sociopolitical
Activist + personal + business + international politics. {First as tragedy, then as farce.}

Thursday, July 18, 2002

From the who's-fighting-for-your-rights department:

An Iowa state judge has upheld a subpoena ordering an Iowa Planned Parenthood to turn over the results of up to a thousand pregnancy tests because they aren't legally considered medical records (and therefore confidential under Iowa law) because doctors and nurses don't administer the tests. Of course, doctors and nurses frequently don't administer blood tests of all kinds, pap smears, and many other kinds of tests.

The results are being subpoenaed by law enforcement officers who are investigating the possible murder of an infant whose body was found dumped. They have no reason to believe that the mother had a pregnancy test at all, and that if she did, she went to Planned Parenthood.

To my twitchy eye, it looks like a case of rousting the women down at Planned Parenthood because they must be involved, given their baby-murderin' ways. Adding to my suspicion is the ruling judge's remark that “Astonishingly, PPGI apparently considers itself and its personnel to be above the law...”

Jill June, president of the Greater Iowa chapter, says she'll go to jail to protect the records if she has to. Donations and and encouragements can be sent through their website, should that sort of thing appeal to you.

05:30 PM (link)

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Props to Salon for covering the bizarre and ugly RAVE act currently in the senate. Simultaneous beatdown to Salon for letting the guy who directed this droolingly lame self-parody of a movie write the article.


Still, the article does a decent job of disseminating the critical information: the act is an extension of the crack-house laws from the '80s, and it's intended to make anyone who throws a party at which drugs might be present vulnerable to enormous fines and up to 20 years in jail.

You can read the bill here and contact your senators here, should that sort of thing interest you.

Thanks to Luminescent's article at Kuro5hin for the legislative links.

10:56 PM (link)

Thursday, April 04, 2002

Perhaps I should clarify. I have no evidence that the individual statements below are true. Nor do I wish to make a statement about the validity of the Palestinean political cause vs. the Israeli political cause. But there appear to be atrocities being perpetrated on a whole lot of people by the Israeli army.

The U.S. supports Israel, therefore my tax dollars are (at least symbolically) supporting these actions. This is a very, very bad thing.

The end.

10:50 PM (link)

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

This is real.

We had a telephone and would receive calls from all over telling us what was happening. Everyone is in grave danger and Israeli soldiers were killing people everywhere. They are arresting medics and ambulance drivers, including foreign volunteer medical workers.

They keep taking doctors and medics, just now another call. Again, this time the wife of a doctor telling us her husband has been taken from the ambulance.

Large groups of people have been found in rooms, shot dead, there are blood marks where they have lined people up on their knees and shot them, with their ID cards laying on top of them. They are taking people from their homes, blindfolding them, removing their clothes, taking them away or lining them up and shooting them against the wall.

- Electronic Intifada

The medical team set out a second time for Bethlehem. As soon as they arrived there, the army blindfolded, tied, and undressed the doctor, driver, nurse and a wounded person inside the ambulance. They made them lie down on the floor for one hour and then arrested them, seizing the ambulance. We don't know where they have been taken at this time. The name of the driver is Jamal Balbul. We are trying to find out the names of the others in the ambulance. The army is commiting atrocities all over the Occupied Territories.

- Indymedia Palestine.

11:33 PM (link)

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

So just to recap.

An ice shelf that's been around since the last ice age and survived countless naturally-occurring climate blips collapsed at astonishing speed this month. Scientists “stop short” of saying that the sudden temperature increase in the area is related to human activity — although UN scientists are quite firm about the validity of human-initiated climate change.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the world's biggest producer of climate changing pollutants has no intent of serious action. We're not even going to require SUVs to get better mileage, a matter of national security as well as common sense.

And it's just one more dose, but I can't quite shake the suspicion that our species isn't going to evolve fast enough to get past short-sighted, profit-driven behavior that will destroy our habitat.

(edited for better judgment.)

10:02 PM (link)

Friday, March 15, 2002

The New York Times has a funny, fascinating article on Coke's flailing attempt to World Beverage Domination, particularly in Japan. There are, according to Coke's crack marketing people, 32 possible “beverage occasions” in each day, including:

  • taking a break at school

  • eating at a quick-service restaurant

  • commuting/traveling

  • working around house/chores/gardening

The writer finds the whole thing a tad depressing:

...there's something a bit sad about how the ground has shifted underneath Coke. Here's this legend of capitalism, this worldbeater, this icon of all-powerful American enterprise, and now it's forced to keep track of what girls in Peru drink for breakfast; which tiny juice line in Poland it needs to buy out; whether women in Indonesia want milk in their coffee, or sugar, or both.

Coke has to learn the desires of the people to whom they hypermarket sugar water at a 1000% mark-up? My heart breaks. Now shut up and pass me my gardening beverage.

03:56 PM (link)

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

I primarily get my news from Salon and NPR, but I also check AlterNet and IndyMedia for the stories that don't make the mainstream. And it's funny, but I just don't feel the same way about AlterNet after reading NarcoNews's mini-exposé of their dubious sydication practices and the predictable fizz that followed.

The stories are the same as they were before (of middling quality), but their casual, indy attitude now smacks of intentional, icky manipulation.

Perhaps this should be obvious, but it turns out that brand damage is as harmful to the alternative world as it is to Coke. Activists take note.

02:44 PM (link)

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Brandy French, a 16 year-old student, died last May after taking Ecstasy. Her death is in the news because her father is suing her friends and another adult for not saving her life.

The coroner stated that her death was due to an “Ecstasy overdose,” and the media have run with that story. Her reported symptoms including severe vomiting, loss of motor control, breathing problems, unconsciousness, and eventual death:

She was pronounced dead later of brain damage caused by methylenedioxymethamphetamine — MDMA, or Ecstasy.

Forensic pathologist Shaun Ladham testified the drug had probably raced through her small body, shutting down her nervous system, collapsing her heart and causing brain damage.

I don't know much about drugs in general nor about Ecstasy in particular, but even I can tell that there's something wrong with this story.

Brandy French weighed about 98lbs., which puts her lethal dose at about 4712mg. The DEA puts an average Ecstasy dose at 50-150mg. So she took 32 pills, or she got an incredibly pure dose, or the pill she took had something else in it. Or she drank alcohol with her E or she had a freak reaction...point being, a straight-up MDMA overdose seems unlikely.

Given that Ecstasy is very frequently adulterated with other chemicals like PMA and DXM, contamination seems like the most likely cause of her fatal reaction. (For perspective, testing for PMA found that five of seven Ecstasy-related deaths in Orange and Osceola counties in 2000 involved PMA.)

The mainstream media is all but required to support the government line on illegal drugs, but that shouldn't prevent them from discussing the preventable factors that make Ecstasy dangerous — contaminants like PMA can be avoided by using testing kits that are available on the net.

It's a familiar situation: if you have a bunch of kids who are likely to have unprotected sex, do you stick with promoting abstinence, or do you tell them where they can find condoms? Do you oversimplify the truth and use consistently ineffective scare tatics, or do you educate kids about how to test their pills, assess the risks of their behavior, and when to get their friends to the hospital?

Is it more important to maintain an illusion of innocence, or to keep more people alive?

P.S. (March 17th)
It's come to my attention that a lot of people are getting here via Google searches for Brandy French. I wrote this to bring up the issue of inaccurate, sensationalistic reporting about drugs, not to trivialize her death, and I hope that anyone who may have known her understands that.

12:47 PM (link)

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Here's one excellent reason to love Libertarians. A PDF of the ad may be found here.

10:21 AM (link)

Friday, February 15, 2002

I do my share of complaining about U.S. domestic and foreign policy, but its time to spread it around. What the hell is wrong with Australia, and why aren't we hearing more about this? Ew. Ew.

02:39 PM (link)

My favorite entry yet in the Lomborg controversy, is the following letter written in response to the Economist's recent article that disdained Lomborg's scientific opponents:

SIR – Mr Lomborg is not a scientist, he is a statistician. The statistics he uses are based on an extremely selective reading of the data and widespread, and presumably deliberate, misinterpretation of decades of authoritative scientific work. Only in this way is he able to conclude the exact opposite of what everyone else—scientists and environmentalists alike—has long been saying about biodiversity, forests and climate change. That, by the way, is why I threw a pie at him.

Mark Lynas

A man of action, Mr Lynas.

01:41 PM (link)

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Mark Crispin Miller, media critic and author of The Bush Dyslexicon, has two lucid articles over at Context.

Brain Drain marvels at the hysterical degree of anti-intellectual sentiment in the conservative mainstream, using the author's experience with raving Republicans as a point of departure.

Class Dismissed, on the other hand, nails leftists (academic and otherwise) for indulging themselves in dense, barely intelligible communication: say it in a way that no one—no one—really understands is like not saying it at all. The gap between the intellectuals and everybody else is surely real, and probably eternal; but any intellectual who wants to be politically engaged must try to bridge it, and encourage others to do likewise. Only then will it be possible to build the sort of movement that the left demands, and that the people would appreciate, and that the right would have a hard time laughing off.

For extra points, compare the latter article with Gayatri Spivak's unabashed insistence on unintelligible academic discourse:

...the in-choate in-fans ab-original para-subject cannot be theorized as functionally completely frozen in a world where teleology is schematized into geo-graphy.

I've read Spivak, et al, and I understand that it is possible to decode her prose, but I'm enough of a classicist to believe that clarity is of essence.

The down-home conservative hatred for the academic left is scary and too reminiscent of torch-bearing mobs for me to make excuses for it. Nevertheless, those who place a high value on knowledge and reflection must surely have a kind of personal responsibility to consider the clarity of their communication—unless exclusion and spectacle are their intended goals.

(My secret's out. Under all my social and political liberalism, I'm a literary and academic conservative. Do I have to give back my ACLU card yet?)

04:04 PM (link)

Monday, February 11, 2002

When I saw the Reuters release about Enron ex-VP John Clifford Baxter's death, I turned to my housemate and said, with typical eloquence “Somebody so shot him.”

It looks like I'm not the only one who wondered why the investigation was “conducted” so quickly. Which isn't to say that the man was murdered, but let's not be hasty.

03:53 PM (link)

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Great, sensible news from the World Social Forum—progress toward an active, rather than exclusively reactive, movement that can balance the amorality and short-sightedness of giant corporations with a commitment to consider the human and environmental impact of progress.

In related news, who swapped bodies with Bill Gates? Not only is he becoming more vocal about his views on social responsibility, but he's apparently annoyed that Microsoft makes such terrible software.

I mean, damn.

03:41 PM (link)

Saturday, February 02, 2002

Speaking of popular resistance: a couple of case studies.

In February, 1986 in Manila, a crowd of peaceful resistors gathered at the ballot-counting stations and stood in front of the Marcos government's tanks, successfully protecting the elections that ousted Marcos and brought Corazon Aquino to power. The soldiers who were supposed to attack them broke down and couldn't. Effectively, they brought about a revolution.

In 1980 in Kwangju, South Korea, Chun Doo Hwan's military government gunned down hundreds of protesting students. Kwangju's adults responded to the brutality with force of their own and managed to take the city back from the military and keep it for eight days before the army reclaimed it.

And, of course, there's Tiananmen Square. Even when these protests fail, they do draw international attention, though sometimes at great cost.

And now, just for fun, a quick US foreign policy quiz:

Q. Which of the above incidents was the US government involved in?
A. Kwangju. Documents that came to light in 1996 show that the United States secretly supported and encouraged Chun's use of military force against pro-democracy demonstrators.

06:34 PM (link)

Interesting and encouraging: The NY Times reports that over 100 Israel army reservists have refused to continue to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip because they will not support “dominating, expelling, starving and humiliating an entire people.”

Sharon, rather predictably, warns that the refusal threatens democracy itself, and no wonder—a similar challenge by reservists helped force him to withdraw Israel's forces from central Lebanon back in the 80s.

06:25 PM (link)

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Global Exchange is facilitating meetings between families of WTC victims and victims of the US bombings in Afghanistan.

It's a small-scale action, really, but the idea appeals to me. We certainly need organizations that report on policy and lobby lawmakers and organize massive relief efforts, but it does something good to my heart to see organizations that focus on people-to-people connections succeeding.

07:54 PM (link)

In a preliminary study conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, a team led by noted virus researcher Samuel Baron, M.D has discovered that three widely-available lubricants kill HIV in the lab.

If these results are confirmed in other experiments and turn out to be useful outside the lab, the possibilities for reducing transmission rates among groups who are unlikely to use condoms are awfully exciting.

Of course, the first thing that will happen is that the researchers will immediately be criticized for encouraging people to stop using condoms.

Still, it's another tiny dose of hope.

07:39 PM (link)

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

"We are not against America or Americans," he says. "We are against the arrogance of intimidation."

Asra Q. Nomani, special correspondant at Salon, has a quiet, eloquent article about her visit to an Afghan official's home.

11:26 AM (link)

Thursday, October 04, 2001

The US government is airdropping food in Afghanistan in order to prove to the Afghan people that the US is not against them, but against their leaders. Now, these are same people who have little to no access to any media not under strict state control. These are the people whose government has told them that the jews bombed the US so that arabs would be blamed.

Even so, I honestly have to stop, just for the evening, and give my propaganda filter the night off. To the people who will receive that food, it doesn't matter what motivated the US's sudden generosity.

It's been a little over three weeks since the attacks, and my government has not, despite all their thundering speeches, gone to war. We have not bombed the innocents -- not this time, not yet. And while only a week ago it seemed like an an action far too compassionate, human, and rational for the US government to take, we are dropping food instead of bombs.

08:09 PM (link)

Sunday, September 30, 2001

Fascinating, fascinating information from the Gallup International poll on terrorism in the US (link via AlterNet).

36% of Israelis think that, if the US goes to war against countries harboring the terrorists, they should attack both military and civilian targets. Only 1% of respondants from Pakistan, and 2% from Greece, said the same. 86% of Koreans polled believe that the terrorist attacks in the US will lead to a global economic crisis, as compared to 19% of Finns asked the same question.

07:27 PM (link)

Thursday, August 23, 2001

The brutal attacks on demonstrators (peaceful, violent, sleeping, injured) and the alternative press by the police in Genoa last month seemed too much to write about at the time. I linked to Indymedia's reports fom the the scene, and I re-evaluated the way I make a living and I thought a lot. A month later, there are a couple of points, most of them dealt with in this excellent article from In These Times, that I want to write down for reference:

1. Undercover police officers (or people working for or with the police) infiltrated the "black bloc" in order to assist the police in making massive arrests of protestors. These infiltrators actually did much of the damage attributed to the protestors themselves in order to provide the police with conveniently-timed acts of violence that would justify the arrests, brutal beatings, and fatal shooting the police dealt out. Certainly these infiltrators were not the only ones doing violence, but they have confused the issue -- and the mainstream press -- which was probably the goal all along.

2. The police came to the conflicts with the intention of doing violence. They had already pre-ordered body bags.

3. In addition to the bone-breaking beatings the police used to subdue peaceful protesters during the protests themselves, they came to the safe space where over 100 activists were sleeping early in the morning and beat them with clubs until there was blood splashed on every wall before carting them all off them to jail. Eighteen are still unaccounted for.

4. Members of the press were targeted and arrested with their lawyers (and with no legal pretext) in the officially-recognized Independent Media Center building. All of their tapes of the protests were confiscated.

Italia Indymedia

12:42 PM (link)

Rep. Davis, Salon has some particularly timely advice on how you could have apologized without sounding like a rodent.

On a happier note, woo! (Salon also has a couple of viewpoints on Helms's departure.)

07:27 AM (link)

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

"Two things made this country great: White men & Christianity."

So goes an email that North Carolina Rep. Don Davis forwarded to the entire state legislature.

"There's a lot of it that's truth, the way I see it," Davis said. "Who came to this country first — the white man, didn't he? That's who made this country great."

Could we maybe just boycott North Carolina until they stop electing rascist, senile nutball looncakes to office?

12:05 PM (link)

Monday, August 20, 2001

Dubious media bonanza:

Distribution: Working For Change's Laura Flanders breaks down the latest details about the battle for Pacifica, a significant, community-based radio network.

Content: Maggy Zanger slanted media coverage of the Israel-Palestine war on while Norman Solomon (also of Working For Change) explains how to stop worrying and love the media.

07:53 AM (link)

Tuesday, August 14, 2001

The Village Voice has a quick issue-by-issue breakdown of the way Bush is transforming the US into a theocracy.

This is the sort of article that makes particularly useful reading if you'd like to be able to have a well-informed conversation about Bush's politics without making it an obsession.

07:36 AM (link)

Monday, August 13, 2001

Oh oh oh.

This is such a brilliant idea.

12:00 PM (link)

If you haven't read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, then you should go buy a copy and sit down in the sun with a caffeinated drink and read it all and then come back.

If you have read Snow Crash and you remember Stephenson's descriptions of workplace monitoring at The Fed, you will probably enjoy this summary of workplace privacy invasions by the ever-adorable Molly Ivins.

09:46 AM (link)

Thursday, August 09, 2001

In an unprecedented moment of clarity (?), Philip Morris recently released a study detailing the socio-economic benefits of smoking-related early deaths. It turns out that — in the Czech Republic, at least — the cost of treating smoking-related illness is less than the money (unemployment, health benefits, pensions, etc.) saved because of early deaths. According to the Prague Post, 22.7% of deaths in the Czech Republic are related to smoking.

"We are not in any way suggesting that the social cost of smoking is of benefit to society," said Robert Kaplan, director of communications at Philip Morris International. (via CNN)

Ah, riiight.

11:36 AM (link)

Thursday, August 02, 2001

If you're opposed to draconian drug-related measures in general or to the unwarranted hysteria surrounding Ecstasy in particular, please take a moment to contact your representatives to express your opinion of the "Ecstasy Prevention Act" -- a proposed provision that would, among other things, make it very hard to legally provide information on how to be safe if you do choose to use Ecstasy.

Also, please note that this bill is co-sponsored by none other than Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman.

Learn more now.

11:17 AM (link)

Tuesday, July 31, 2001

They rule is so very, very close to the kind of thing that I've been discussing with a friend. You can quickly, visually map out connections between corporations via their board members, and you can find out which politicians those board members are financially supporting via donations. I love it. And I don't have to find the time to make it myself. Woo!
(Link via Rebecca's Pocket.)

08:51 AM (link)

Monday, July 30, 2001

If you're interested in politics or in activism (and you like in the US) you've probably already seen vairous charitable organizations who want you to donate your Bush-induced tax rebate as both a charitable act and a means of protest against Bush's policies.

You may not know, however, that Working Assets is matching $300 or $600 gifts to any of the nonprofits that are in the Give for Change directory. Just visit Give for Change, donate the amount of a tax rebate, and your contribution is doubled. Don't forget any employer contributions, for those of you who also work for the man.

02:13 PM (link)

Born to Shop? At last. Relief from your Shopping-Related Impulse-Control Disorder...DOLORAX® Treat yourself™

So read the Adbusters spoof ad in last month's issue. I chuckled. After the Sarafem™ ridiculousness, the spoof seemed well-timed and just implausible enough to be funny.


Celexa, the brand-name form of citalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, is being studied (in university studies funded by the drug company that owns the Celexa patent) as a remedy for (you guessed it) compulsive shopping. Apparently, this happened a few months back and I somehow missed it. (Which makes the Adbusters ad both more and less funny, depending on your sense of humor and expectations.) Salon discusses the ethics of drug company-funded research into new "disorders" that provide a new market for existing patented drugs.

11:33 AM (link)

Thursday, July 05, 2001

“...women are not afraid to get whimsical or have a little fun with their design. They aren't afraid of NOT being taken seriously. Male web designers, conversely, have websites filled with big macho things like hunks of steel and cars and thick type and guns and robots and lots of exploded diagrams of manly man things like plane engines... you get the picture: much chest thumping and posturing going on there.”

- Jo, of the netstar (and the badass Libris Ex Machina) in Pixelsurgeon's article on female designers.

Jo's comment reminds me of the nastiness that happened on awhile back — and while I'd never write off a gender as homogenously anything, the boy's-club chest pounding from the 16-year-old design boys' corner gets old. Which isn't a knock on guys as much as a knock on dorks: in the girlie-style design world, there are whole bulletin boards full of equally dorky girls spazzing out because some other 14-year-old stole their "layouts," so I guess I mostly just want to avoid junior high in all its fabulous forms.

I'm glad I have no design inclinations beyond a sincere respect for green.

03:04 PM (link)

Friday, June 22, 2001

I don't have a driver's license (at 24), although I want one soon so that I can help with road trip driving and stuff like that, but in case you haven't thought much about driving vs. walking, Slythiatova breaks it all down for you.

10:33 PM (link)

Monday, June 04, 2001

Secret American History: On June 1st, 1921, a white mob murdered somewhere between 150 and 300 black men, women, and children, and burned Greenwood, a thriving black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the ground. The event was generally left out of history books and kept remarkably quiet until 1997, when the Oklahoma Legislature finally began to address the issues of responsibility and reparations for the riots.

Anniversary coverage of the Tulsa race riots in 1921:

The Nation offers a powerful article written in 1921 by Walter White, a Nation reporter and future director of the NAACP.

The Connection's subsite on the topic provides an excellent audio broadcast and a related discussion forum.

02:04 PM (link)

Thursday, May 24, 2001

Lest I blog only the bad, I'd just like to mention that Senator Jeffords' exit from the Republican party—and the resulting swing in political power in the US Senate—is the best news I've read since the elections. Finally, proof that there ethical, moderate republican politicians around who take issue with the republican party's current extremes.

10:56 AM (link)

Thursday, May 17, 2001

So how? How do (you I we) make that difference once the information's done its work?

I don't know. It's a constant challenge and a constant choice. Choose to live more lightly. Buy organic food, and in doing so, keep yourself healthier and support a positive movement. Consume less and enjoy more. Vote, for the love of god. Disseminate information. Put your money where your heart is. All I know is what I'm learning to do, and I'm learning by feel.

And this feels good and healthy and alive.

simple living
why organic? (link via
socially conscious investing

07:49 PM (link)

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

"...the spectacle of displaying a movement is getting confused with the less glamorous business of building one."

- Naomi Klein on practical, human social change

If you don't think that we're living in a moment of crisis, here in this country, here in the first world, you don't have all the information.

It's not a choice between acting on your convictions and living well — despite media portrayals of extremists and student radicals, you don't have to choose between a rich, sane, fulfilling life and a life that makes a difference.

A tiny fraction of the world's people control a huge proportion of the world's wealth and power. Nothing's as simple as us and them, but there are more people consuming and being affected by destructive, profit-driven decisions than there are people making them. If we can wake up from the cotton-wool dream of corporate substitutes for information and advertisting substitutes for beliefs, there are, quite simply, more of us than there are of them.

The Fight for the Americas, a speech from the Quebec protests by Maude Barlow (the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians)

Hundreds of Protests:Naomi Klein on the Quebec protests as a new model of dissent

Rogue Nation, an editorial from The Nation on the US vs. the UN

Scorched Earth Policy: Bush's administration and the environment, from AlterNet

01:37 PM (link)

Monday, April 30, 2001

Today's blissblog morning political brief:

A fresh and juicy selection of infomation about the May Day protests:, May Day @, Phone In Sick, The Guardian's special May Day Protests section, and Boston's own Carnival Against Capitalism.

On the topic of anti-capitalist thought, Naomi Klein's, the companion site to her book, No Logo. gets served with a sealed court order by two FBI agents and an agent of the US Secret Service demanding that the IMC supply the FBI with "all user connection logs" for April 20 and 21st from a web server occupying an IP address which the Secret Service believed belonged to the IMC. The gag order's been lifted, so now they can talk about it.

And the protest around the corner...the Harvard Living Wage Sit-In has hit day 11. (Harvard students, not known for their political bent since the 60's, are protesting Harvard University's refusal to pay its employees a living wage.)

07:44 AM (link)

Tuesday, April 24, 2001

If you're interested in genetically modified food and the issues around it,'s opened GMO Watch, a growing subsite that glosses the topic and provides resources for more in-depth research. This is totally the direction that I want Find Out For Yourself to move toward in the future.

06:55 AM (link)

Monday, April 23, 2001

FTAA special:

What is the FTAA?
The Free Trade Area of the Americas is a trade agreement between the governments of 34 countries in the western hemisphere (every country in the hemisphere except Cuba). The agreement is being negotiated in secret, but some documents have been leaked; these documents demonstrate that the FTAA is literally an extension of NAFTA.

For corporate America, NAFTA has been a success -- but for individuals in the US, Mexico, and Canada, it's been a nightmare. Find out why NAFTA doesn't work and why the FTAA will bring economic benefits only to the shareholders of large corporations in the FTAA FAQ.

What is the pro-FTAA point of view?
Who supports that view: trade ministers from 34 western hemisphere countries; the WTO.

What is the anti-FTAA point of view?
Who supports that view: trade unions; environmentalists; public interest groups

Related links:

07:07 AM (link)

Thursday, April 19, 2001

From In These Times, Ten Facts About SUVs. I partcularly recommend this direct action link.

08:25 AM (link)

President Bush, who broken his campaign promise to reduce CO2 emissions and pissed off the rest of the world by refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol, has announced that he'll be signing an international treaty "aimed at reducing the release into the environment of a number of deadly pesticides and industrial chemicals." [CNN story here.]The treaty apparently deals with the reduction of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) -- more on the convention from the World Wildlife Fund.

An important bit from the press release:

Under the treaty, all countries that sign it would be required to stop production and new uses of persistent organic pollutants with limited exceptions.

None of the pesticides are in use in the United States today and the manufacture and new use of PCBs was prohibited or severely restricted by the government in 1978.

So the US won't, in fact, be making many, if any, changes itself. These chemicals have been illegal here for over 20 years.

It's great that Bush and the EPA are signing any environmental protection treaties, but I suspect that this is going to be used as evidence of Bush's environmental friendliness — while he refuses to sign the protocol that would actually require the US to shoulder some of the burden of reducing harmful emissions and halting human-created climate change.

08:05 AM (link)

In a significant victory for those who oppose the unethical financial and legal practices of big drug companies, all of the 39 pharmaceutical companies involved in the South African AIDS drug patent case have unconditionally dropped the suit. Significant because companies are being forced by the public to agree to compromises -- in this case, to an international agreement that charges poor countries less for essential drugs.

Update: BBC article.

07:43 AM (link)

Wednesday, April 18, 2001

"If we give one inch to these terrorists in the form of negotiations, then we've got no one to blame but ourselves when we turn into another Detroit or Washington DC."

The terrorists in question are the people of Cincinnati who demonstrated last week, both peacefully and violently, following the shooting of another fleeing black man by white police. Tim Thomas, the man shot last week, is the fifteenth black man to have been killed by Cincinnati police since 1995, the fourth since November. In an an article on AlterNet, Tim Wise pins down the blatant official racism that's behind the riots.

10:57 AM (link)

Tuesday, April 17, 2001

From the excellent In These Times, "The Myth of Living Safely in a Toxic World."

In a distinctly refreshing move away from the Earth Day/Boy Scout school of environmentalism, Sandra Steingraber explores the inadequacy of actions that focus on the smallest units of society:

I'll just filter all the tap water coming into my house, you might be thinking here. Think again. Even if these gadgets worked perfectly--and they don't--you are faced with changing them every three to six months. You're left with a spent water filter laden with all the chemical toxics you're determined to keep out of your own body. Now what are you going to do? Throw it in the trash so it can end up leaching in a landfill and contaminating someone else's well? Or become a source of dioxin when it's shoveled into an incinerator and lit on fire? Filters for tap water are nothing more than a way of playing an elaborate shell game with harmful chemicals.
Smart, fresh, a great encouragement and an antidote to all manner of frustration.

10:09 AM (link)

Thursday, April 12, 2001

In case anyone hadn't noticed, there are race riots happening right now in Cincinnati. Sixty-six people have been arrested so far, and one police officer's been shot. An unarmed, fleeing black man was shot and killed over the weekend by a white policeman — he was the fourth black man shot and killed by the police since November.

12:59 PM (link)

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Read more about what corporate-sponsored media can't or won't tell you: Alternet presents "The Top Ten Censored Stories of 2000."

It's actually the top twenty — the headlines of the ten runners-up aren't explained, but the titles are intriguing: "Cuba Leads the World in Organic Farming," "The World Trade Organization is an Illegal Institution," "Indigenous People Challenge Private Ownership and Patenting of Life."

07:11 AM (link)

Thursday, April 05, 2001

There's new information in Find Out For Yourself today. The corporate sites that try to discredit the reams of findings about climate change are actually really entertaining.

Favorite tactics:

Either these are intentionally targeting the dim and easily misled, or they need a serious strategy overhaul.

12:22 PM (link)

Wednesday, April 04, 2001

Human Rights Watch, the largest human rights organization based in the United States, has published their yearly human rights report. The US section is distressing and fairly comprehensive.

11:12 AM (link)

While it's probably unecessary to further discuss the bizarro world of drug-company-designed disorders, this article does mention an interesting point: the fact that boys don't cry/don't display emotion/are culturally repressed gets the pop-psych rap for all manner of social ills. And the fact that girls do cry is a medical disorder.

Maybe this perspective is part of the reason that 20% of Americans are officially mentally ill.

08:19 AM (link)

Why is the media ignoring news stories that would have been national scandals during the Clinton administration?

(Link via Follow Me Here.)

06:49 AM (link)

Monday, April 02, 2001

Chris Lydon will be hosting Ralph Nader tomorrow, April 4th at 10:00 am EST via live webcast on The webcast will also be archived for your listen-y pleasure.

11:13 AM (link)

This is interesting. Cultural Creatives, accordingly to the authors of a new book by the same title, are a very large group of people who share an interest in sustainable ways of life, spiritual and intellectual development, and social justice (among other things). And there are something like 50 million of them in the US alone.

About two sentences into the web site, my new-age/flakey/typical-white-middle-class-baby-boomer-spirituality alarm went off, but the theory turns out to be worth further examination. The authors have anticipated and attempted to answer most of my initial questions about their theories in the FAQ section of their site, which I recommend as a starting point.

Alternet has an interview with the authors that outlines their theories. (The recurrence of words like "practical", "authentic", and "grounded" is refreshing.)

[And I'm only going to put commas inside when quotation marks when it makes sense to do so. Muhuhaha.]

06:44 AM (link)

Friday, March 30, 2001

Two things. The first, an email in response to my heartfelt, if slightly ill-considered, post about anti-abortion terrorism. The second, a series of sites that deal with the supression of information about toxic chemicals in the US.

The email argues that violence is the way to meet and fight violence.

The web sites are all about counteracting the violence done in secret by chemical companies by providing information.

It may be that the first option is correct, but I have to put my energy behind the second. That makes it hard to oppose an anti-choice group for providing information of their own (although I'll figure out a way). Look for a related project soon.

10:50 AM (link)

Thursday, March 29, 2001

what is it about birmingham?
what is it about buffalo?

("hello, birmingham", ani)

Funny, but this seems like so much too little and so much too late. If it's justice, I guess that's a good thing, but somehow justice seems awfully slow in this particular arena, and awfully incomplete.

A site that lists the names and home addresses of abortion providers ("baby butchers") and their spouses (with the murdered doctor's names crossed off) has been judged to be legal, but making a list of people you feel like killing can get you arrested.

An extreme-right project to put Webcams outside abortion clinics to "catalog" people going in and out is about to launch.


01:07 PM (link)

Monday, March 26, 2001

New disease, new drug:

Lilly, makers of hit chemical Prozac™, have released a new drug, Sarafem™, to combat a new, tailor-made disease, PMDD. PMDD stands for "premenstrual dysphoric disorder." Dyphoric as in the opposite of euphoric. Oh, and don't miss the pun on "seraphim"...for an angelic demeanor all month long!

The kicker — Sarafem™'s not a new drug at all, it's fluoxetine hydrochloride, aka Prozac™.

Drug your sons for hyperactivity, drug your daughters for premature puberty, drug yourself for...what, bitchiness? Welcome to Stepford. Take the fucking Soma.

There are people who need these medications and whose lives are much better for them. But the practice of designing and marketing "disorders" to provide new markets for patented, extremely profitable, and highly marketed drugs is loathsome.

Via Urban Forest.

11:48 AM (link)

"...white high school students are seven times more likely than blacks to have used cocaine; eight times more likely to have smoked crack; ten times more likely to have used LSD and seven times more likely to have used heroin.

What's more, white youth ages 12-17 are more likely to sell drugs: 34% more likely, in fact than their black counterparts. And it is white youth who are twice as likely to binge drink, and nearly twice as likely as blacks to drive drunk. And white males are twice as likely to bring a weapon to school as are black males."
- Tim Wise, "School Shootings and White Denial"

I hadn't gotten around to reading all of last Thursday's Phoenix over the weekend, so I read the new section on the train to work today. After I finished the story on pedophilia in the priesthood, I moved on to the obligatory school shootings article — which turned out to be the sanest thing I've read on the topic since Columbine. It turns out to have originally been published on, another site that I'd mislaid during a bookmark shuffle.

Go read it.

10:50 AM (link)

Monday, March 19, 2001

Edward Said, author of Orientalism and various books and essays criticizing the Israeli occupation of previously Palestinean territory, was photographed throwing stones in Israel. (Photo here.)

The Connecticut Jewish Ledger states that he was photographed "hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers. Afterwards, Said expressed pride at his violent action, which he called 'symbolic.' " The Zionist Organization of America has attempted to gain a public rebuke of Said by his employer, Columbia University.

Said relates his own version of events in a Counterpuch essay on Freud and Zionism. In a nutshell, he wasn't throwing rocks at soldiers, he was tossing a "tiny pebble" as a symbol of joy near an abandoned border post, now "a deserted area except for Lebanese visitors who come there in large numbers to throw stones of celebration across the still heavily fortified border."

"No Israelis," he writes, "neither military nor civilians, were in sight."

The disputed action happened in a time and place so charged with intensity that any impression of the scene is necessarily warped by the gravitational pull of the viewer's stance. By now, these irreconcilable truths are familiar, but no less distressing. There's something to be said here about the power of image, and about the responsibility to provide context, but I'm not sure exactly what it is yet.

11:11 AM (link)

Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Antanas Mockus, mayor of Bogota, Columbia, has declared a "Night Without Men" this Friday, during which women are encouraged to go out and celebrate while their male relatives stay home and take care of the house. The idea is to (obviously) give the women a night off, but also to cut domestic violence and street crime and to increase understanding between the sexes.

This is the same guy who successfully staged a "Day Without Cars" last month and is known for his peculiar methods of governance: "During an earlier term as mayor, he strutted about Bogota as "Super Citizen" in red and blue tights and posted mimes at stoplights to chastise reckless drivers." A detractor in the AP article calls him a "crazy philosopher." Hell yeah.

05:01 PM (link)

Thursday, March 01, 2001

Every Thursday on my way to the T, I scrabble over to the line of newspaper boxes next to the station and pick up a Boston Phoenix. The Phoenix's sharp local and national news with Boston character and a liberal slant is a defining characteristic of my Thursday mornings in the same way that Tuesday evening = Buffy and comfort food.

This morning's edition features A Cure for Complacency. The article profiles Partners in Health, a Cambridge-based health group dedicated to addressing a fundamental injustice of global health care: "millions of poor people die every year from diseases that we know how to cure and treat."

Partners in Health is simultaneously working to advocate global health-care policy changes, coordinating specific relief programs in Haiti, Mexico, Peru,and Boston and dealing directly with individuals who need help. There's a sick Haitian four-year-old named Maveline Israel living in co-founder Paul Farmer's apartment while she's being treated. (Farmer's been criticized for being too involved.) The acid test at PIH is that every case should be judged as if the person in question were your own child or wife or brother.

“Even if she represents nothing beyond Maveline, she’s already plenty. She’s huge."

That makes sense to me. They need your help.

09:05 AM (link)

Wednesday, February 28, 2001

The newest issue of Adbusters Magazine is all about the digital revolution and the Cyborg Manifesto. It feeds off of Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto and an array of other influences. I'll eventually be able to tolerate the flash and read it straight through.

08:26 AM (link)

Friday, February 23, 2001

Does race exist? NOVA has a pretty well-reasoned article that addresses both sides of the question. My academic background knocked me up against related subjects pretty frequently, and I'm eventually going to get back to it and do some real synthesis with the stuff that's been stewing in my head since I graduated.

06:59 PM (link)

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Stay Free Magazine has links to an hour-long documentary based on illegally taped satellite footage. It covers the 1992 election, the LA riots, and a few other interesting things — George Bush senior dicussing Halcion with Larry King during a commerical break, for instance.

09:01 AM (link)

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued their first formal warning that global warming "could unleash catastrophic and irreversible changes to key planetary processes that make the world habitable." A little late, considering how long scientists have unofficially been saying the same thing — while being opposed by corporate PR flacks.

The interesting thing about this report (other than the fact that it's going to be hard for corporate spin machines to ignore) is that the scientists involved state that "the planet is likely to respond to global warming with a series of unpredictable shudders, rather than with smooth, predictable change." Worsening droughts, coastal flooding, and the spread of mosquito-borne diseases are mentioned as potential "shudders."

08:44 AM (link)

Friday, February 16, 2001

Global Exchange offers a very coherent jumping-off point for a lot of things that I'm beginning to think very hard about. For immediate consideration: the Fair Trade Coffee Campaign.

10:57 AM (link)