Palin's got game

For the last two days, all I have heard from the pundits about John McCain's newly-announced number two, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, are the following:

"She is an unknown commodity."

"How can a woman with five children, one just born four months ago with Downs Syndrome, find time to be the vice president?"

"Palin was only picked to be the token woman to take away the angry Hillary voters from Obama."

"Sarah Palin is the hot librarian guys fantasized about in school."

"Sarah Palin is a right-wing, pro-life, gun-totting nut!"

And the most common sentence:

"Sarah Palin has no experience."

Many of these comments are true to some extent; however, her critics seem to be leaving out a few facts. While she might have limited experience in some areas, Palin does seem to have other good qualities that I am feeling.

Mind you, this doesn't mean I will be voting Republican in November, but there is something about Palin that strikes me.

For one thing, she does have experience that McCain, Obama and Biden don't have - executive experience. As a matter of fact, looking at her resume, one could conclude that Palin might actually has more experience than Obama...

But what interests me the most about her, and that the media is negating to mention, is that Palin seems to be someone who wants to reform the system, even at the expense of upsetting her own party.

From Wall Street Journal

In 2003, Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski appointed her to the state's Oil
and Gas Conservation Commission. Bear in mind that Mr. Murkowski had already
served as junior U.S. Senator from Alaska for 22 years. Mr. Murkowski was junior
senator for so long because Senator Ted Stevens (who was recently indicted for
corruption) had lifetime tenure in the senior post.

Shortly after joining the
oil and gas commission, Mrs. Palin commenced an ethics probe of the state's
Republican party chairman, Randy Ruedrich, involving conflicts of interest with
oil companies. The probe resulted in a $12,000 fine for the party chair.

She crossed party lines in 2004 to join a Democratic representative's
ethics complaint over an international trade deal against the Republican
Attorney General Gregg Renkes, who had ties to the Murkowski machine. Mr. Renkes

In late 2005, Mrs. Palin announced her run for Governor before
then-Governor Murkowski had announced his intention to stand for re-election. In
a three-way primary, Mrs. Palin got 51% to Mr. Murkowski's 19%. At the center of
this campaign was a debate over competing proposals to build a natural gas
pipeline across Alaska.

These columns wrote about Gov. Murkowski's smashing defeat by Mrs. Palin,
noting that his pipeline proposal had been tainted by reports of sweetheart
deals with energy companies. The editorial ended: "If Republicans are run out of
Congress in November, one big reason will be that, like Mr. Murkowski, they have
become far more comfortable running the government than reforming it." That is
what happened, as disgusted GOP voters turned away from their own party and
ceded control of Congress to the Democrats.

Against the odds, Mrs. Palin won that 2006 election against the state's
former Democratic governor Tony Knowles. Most recently, she promoted the effort
of her GOP lieutenant governor to unseat U.S. Congressman Don Young, who with
Senator Stevens created the earmark that sank the GOP, the notorious "bridge to

Now, inspite of her pending impeachment charges, reading this alone sounds impressive. But here's the real question: If McCain is elected, would Palin continue to be a reformer, or would she be sucked into the cesspool of Washington's business as usual policy?

If the former is true, than that is REALLY change I can believe in!



King's Dream Revisited

While Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama prepares to give his acceptance speech before 75,000 people in Denver tonight, today just so happens to be the 45th anniversary of another African American giving a speech to thousands in Washington D.C.

It was on this day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech at Lincoln Memorial, which is now considered a defining moment in American history. King's speech eventually forced then President John F. Kennedy to expediate civil rights legislation.

But since 1963, has the quality of life really improved for African Americans? Whether or not you plan to vote for him in November, one has to see that there has been much progress in America if Barack Obama can be taken seriously as the potential next president. But there are other factors. There is a rising black middle class and more blacks graduating from high school and college.

However, unemployment, predatory lending, prison industry complex and health disparities continue to hinder progress in the black community.

So has Dr. King's dream been achieved yet? Discuss.



Katrina 3 years on: Online and recovering

Description: This week marks the third anniversary Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region of the United States, leaving nearly 2,000 dead and many more physically and emotionally scarred. A new report shows that recovery since the disaster has been mediocre at best. While many continue to point blame at different factors for poor recovery, some enterprising activists are getting online and taking care of business on their own.

Digital Tools Being Used: Blogs, Google Maps, other maps

What Are They Doing: Online mapping and blogging have become popular ways to show what areas in New Orleans still need help in the rebuilding process. New Orleans resident Karen Gadbois used her blog to protest pharmacy chain Walgreens wanting to build a store in her NorthWest Carrolton neighborhood to replace a supermarket that neighbors would prefer to have back. Gadbois also used Google Maps to show undamaged homes that were deemed for demolition by the city.

Dartmouth College professor Quintus Jett helped create an open source mapping service, Gentilly Project, to engage New Orleans citizens to take charge in recovery efforts. Gentilly residents can go to the mapping website and enter information about what level of restoration is still needed in that section of New Orleans. Jett says that the map has not only made it easier for contractors to find where rebuilding is needed, mapping has also empowered residents.

“We can use these tools to make the world a better place,” Jett said at a recent discussion. “Technology is important, but the psychology behind it is just as important.”

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Battle of Seattle Revisited

If you thought the anti-war rally this weekend in Denver was lackluster at best, it might be time to look back at "real" protests.

The new film, Battle In Seattle, reenacts the events around the 1999 WTO protest in Seattle. Based on what people who have seen it have said about it, it looks interesting and seems accurate.

The film will be opening:

September 19: New York, San Francisco and Seattle
September 26: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Sacramento and Washington, DC.

Groups of 25 or more receive discount tickets. To find a theater near you call 866-758-1258 or visit www.battleinseattlemovie.com/labor

To organize an event around the film's release, contact Michael Crawford at 202-546-4996 or mcrawford@citizen.org

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America's Next Top Vice President

“There is too much theatrics and not enough reality in politics today.”

This is a quote I heard from a caller to a local radio talk show Saturday morning in reference to the way presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s handled the announcement of his vice presidential choice, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden.

I have to agree. For one thing, why was the announcement dragged out for a week, only to be announced to Obama supporters via text message early Saturday morning? This whole “veepstakes” feels like a reality show if you ask me…

For a moment last week I thought Tyra Banks was going to make an appearance on a stage with Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden:

Tyra: I now have one photo left in my hand. The photo is the winner of America’s Next Top Vice President.

(Pause and shows the photo)

Joe Biden, you will be America’s Next Top Vice President!

(Joe Biden starts to jump for joy. Hillary Clinton tears up and hugs Joe Biden. John Edwards, Bill Richards and other VP contenders come out of the side and hug Joe Biden. Queue closing music.)

All this excitement over Joe Biden? If Obama is running a campaign to change hands from Washington’s usual suspects, why did he choose an old white man who has been in the Senate since 1972 and has a tendency to make inappropriate remarks? Furthermore, the reality of Joe Biden is that he supports the Iraq War.

From Foreign Policy In Focus:

Obama’s choice of Biden as his running mate will likely have a hugely negative impact on his once-enthusiastic base of supporters. Obama’s supporters had greatly appreciated the fact that he did not blindly accept the Bush administration’s transparently false claims about Iraq being an imminent danger to U.S. national security interests that required an invasion and occupation of that country. At the same time Biden was joining his Republican colleagues in pushing through a Senate resolution authorizing the invasion, Obama was speaking at a major anti-war rally in Chicago correctly noting that Iraq’s war-making ability had been substantially weakened and that the international community could successfully contain Saddam Hussein from any future acts of aggression.

In Washington, by contrast, Biden was insisting that Bush was right and Obama was wrong, falsely claiming that Iraq under Saddam Hussein – severely weakened by UN disarmament efforts and comprehensive international sanctions – somehow constituted both “a long term threat and a short term threat to our national security” and was an “extreme danger to the world.” Despite the absence of any “weapons of mass destruction” or offensive military capabilities, Biden when reminded of those remarks during an interview last year, replied, “That’s right, and I was correct about that."

McCain is no better when it comes to the theatrics either. His campaign released a commercial – early Sunday morning – trying to ride on the hostility between Obama and Hillary Clinton.

But if the rumors are true about who McCain will choose for his number two, I am sure the Democrats will use and abuse the caustic relationship between McCain and Mitt Romney.

On this very topic, I was speaking to a Republican acquaintance recently, and he told me that many Republicans are now saying that they will not vote for McCain if he doesn’t selected Romney as his VP.

Now, everyone knows how I feel about Romney. If the Republicans are so in love with Romney, why isn’t he the presumptive Republican nominee right now? The reality of Mitt Romney is that he brings nothing to the table - except nice looking hair. But I guess in a world that trumps theatrics over reality, nice looking hair is a must.

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The Battle of Niger Delta

While the world bemoans the soaring costs of crude oil, no one is really paying attention to ongoing war in Niger Delta, an area where nearly two million barrels of crude is extracted daily. The oil rich peninsula of Bakassi was recently given over to Cameroon by Nigeria.

But all is not well in Bakassi.

From ConnectAfrica:

Its isn’t yet one week since the final hand-over ceremony of the bakassi peninsular from Nigeria to Cameroun took place and the stories emanating from the ceded region can best be described as unpalatable. On Saturday there were reports that several bakassians had fled the beleaguered community following growing tension between Cameroun gendarmes and militants from the Niger-delta. The Cameroonian gendarmes’ aggression was always a factor to contend with when several days to the hand-over, stern looking Cameroonian security forces sealed up the peninsula’s entry point only allowing departures. More worrisome were reports of a number of unprovoked shootings by some reckless gendarmes, but It isn’t that I did not expect sooner or later there’ll be unrest but then to imagine that Nigeria and Cameroun according to the dictates of the greentree agreement would be jointly cooperating in the administration of the peninsular for five years and there’s already a spanner in the works less than a week gone leaves my stomach churning.

Fighting in the Delta is not news, MEND has had violent battles with Shell for years. But now there is another rising problems. Human trafficking and sexual violence has always been a topic of concern in Niger Delta. However, the rise in of HIV/AIDS incidences has exacerbated this problem.

From Kaiser HIV/AIDS Report:

Conflict in Nigeria's oil-rich delta region is contributing to the spread of HIV in the country, IRIN/PlusNews reports. According to IRIN/PlusNews, rapes being committed by militants fighting for a greater share of the region's oil wealth and the military are contributing to the spread of HIV. "Rape is prevalent: these militants do anything they like, and when there is conflict, the military move in, and they too will commit rape," C. Okeh, chair of the State Action Committee on HIV/AIDS, said. Although SACA works with police and certain army brigades, other military task forces are not included under the committee's umbrella, according to IRIN/PlusNews.

In addition, the commercial sex industry established around the region's oil refineries is contributing to the situation. The region is "dotted with oil and gas activities, and commercial sex workers follow the camps," Okeh said.

Nigeria's Rivers State has an HIV/AIDS prevalence of 5.4%, compared with the national average of 4.4%, IRIN/PlusNews reports. In addition to the delta conflict, there are multiple factors contributing to the spread of HIV in the state, according to IRIN/PlusNews. A National HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health Survey found the region has the highest incidence of sex work and the largest number of people who have sex with more than one partner per year. The city of Port Harcourt, which has a sea port and international airport, also is a popular destination for migrants. Okeh said, "We are finding a rising [HIV] prevalence in rural farming and fishing communities -- we have communities with very high unemployment rates." Okeh also said he is concerned that unrest in the region will undo the work his committee and nongovernmental organizations have done. He said that at the very least, a "crisis situation means that you don't have time to listen to [HIV/AIDS] messages -- you're thinking of your immediate survival."

According to IRIN/PlusNews, Rivers State has an estimated 120,000 HIV-positive people, of whom about 5,230 currently receive antiretroviral drugs through seven public health centers. One of the centers, located on an island an hour boat ride from Port Harcourt, receives supplies irregularly because of the threat of piracy. David Fabara, coordinator of antiretrovirals and surveillance in the state, said, "We suspect there definitely will be a problem of [drug] resistance" as a result of treatment interruption. Okeh added that the insecurity of the situation is "very challenging, because we are in a situation of a widespread epidemic with very high prevalence across the state, even the interior" (IRIN/PlusNews, 8/14).

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Life After Musharraf

Now that Pervez Musharraf has resigned, a new question has come up for the U.S. presidential candidates: Will America change its policies towards Pakistan? Will there be a true investigation into Benazir Bhutto’s assassination? If you ask me, the answer is a resounding no. But new polling from Pakistan might force the U.S. State Department to rethink this issue.

From Foreign Policy In Focus:

A poll conducted at the end of May 2008 by the Pakistan Institute for Public Opinion for the U.S. groups Terror Free Tomorrow and the New America Foundation revealed the intensity of public opposition to American policies. The poll found that 60% of Pakistanis believe the U.S. “war on terror” seeks to weaken the Muslim world, and 15% think its goal is to “ensure US domination over Pakistan.” About one-third of Pakistanis now have a positive view of al-Qaeda, twice as many as think positively of the United States.

The poll revealed that 44% of Pakistanis believe the United States is the greatest threat to their personal safety (India is a distant second at 14%). The Pakistani Taliban, who are now organized into the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (the Taliban Movement of Pakistan) and by some estimates have up to 40,000 fighters, are seen as a threat by less than 10%. Al-Qaeda barely registers as a threat, slightly surpassing Pakistan’s own military and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).

Similarly, when asked who was most responsible for violence in Pakistan today, the poll found that over 50% of Pakistanis blame the United States. About 10% blame respectively India and the Pakistan army (and ISI). The Pakistani Taliban was blamed by less than 5%.

In April 2008, the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center reported that Pakistan suffered 1,335 fatalities from terrorist attacks in 2007; other estimates are higher. Half these attacks came in FATA. In 2008, these attacks have continued and spread across the North-West Frontier Province. One attack in January killed over 50 people and wounded almost 150 while they were praying in a mosque. Taliban fighters have captured towns and villages and threaten Peshawar, the provincial capital. They have sought to enforce their version of Sharia law, setting up courts, carrying out public executions, blowing up girls’ schools, harassing women, destroying video shops, and even threatening barbers who offer shaves.

Pakistan’s elected government is struggling to deal with a crisis that it has inherited from the past seven years of U.S. policy and military rule. It has tried to talk to and fight the militants at the same time. But the repeated breakdowns of cease-fires negotiated with various militant groups and the bombing in the heart of Islamabad on the anniversary of the siege of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) show that this strategy is not working. There are also suspicions that elements within the Pakistan army and ISI are still sympathetic to the militants.

A way forward is not clear. But the first step must be for Washington to consider how its policies in the “war on terror,” in Afghanistan, and in Pakistan have failed and now feed public animosity in Pakistan toward the United States and support for the Islamist militancy. For its part, Pakistan needs to have a national conversation on what kind of future it wants, whether it wishes to become the kind of savage and ignorant society that the Taliban offer, and if not, how to confront the Islamist threat.

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MySpace used in slavery apology campaign

Description: Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas proves that no one is ever too old to be a digital activist. To commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution last month apologizing for slavery. The passage was due in part to the online activism of the 91-year-old actor.

Digital Tools Being Used: MySpace

What Is He Doing: A longtime activist for racial and social equality, Douglas said recently in an interview that as a Jewish person, he felt it was necessary to stand up to oppression and demand the United States to make an official apology to African Americans. For the last two years he has used his MySpace page to get signature for an e-petition that asks politicians to make an apology. Douglas has also been interacting with viewers of his page with videos and commentary about his cause. His online discussions have also given him exposure to young people who he feels will be the future leaders of social activism.

"I try to get the young people to write to me, in my blog, to make an apology for slavery," Douglas said in a video. "I think it is very important for young people to get interested in things that they have not been interested in."

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Jamaica: Triumph and Madness

Jamaicans have a lot to celebrate this month. In addition to this month being the 46th commemoration of the island gaining independence from England, this weekend Jamaicans got a well-deserved spotlight at the Beijing Olympics.

From San Francisco Chronicle:

Of the 42 medals Jamaica has won in its Olympic history, 41 are from track and field, with the sprints accounting for the vast majority. The history of sprinting in the Olympics would not be complete without mentioning such Jamaicans as Herb McKenley, George Rhoden, Don Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown and now Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser.

The fastest man and the fastest woman in the world come from a place thought to be laid-back. Tell that to the well-beaten Americans in the men's and women's 100 meters.

Unfortunately, leave it up to one bad apple to ruin the bunch.

So-called "journalist" Michael Dingwall wrote a column recently for the Jamaica Observer, giving his reasons for why slavery was a GOOD thing for black people.

From Jamaica Observer:

Slavery was our most important contact with modernity. It is through this "most heinous system ever created" that we blacks were able to understand some of the principles of global trade. Our ancestors were introduced to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade between Europe, Africa and the West Indies. Black Africa's part in the trade was the importation of European technology and the export of slaves. The importation of European technology was important - even though the Africans did not appreciate this importance at first. The export of slaves was also very important, especially for us in the West.

As time went on, we blacks, both in Africa and especially in the Caribbean were, in many ways, being Europeanised and thus civilised. We adopted several aspects of their culture - their systems of government, their technologies, their sense of order and their languages. In doing this, we discarded those aspects of our culture that clearly placed us at a disadvantage - like our lack of sense of self, loyalty to the tribe and our non-participation in modern technology.

I just don't know where to begin with this. But putting aside the ridiculousness of this article, what were the Observer editors thinking to not have Dingwall cite evidence to his thought process. I am a believer in free speech, no matter how stupid the speech is, but no one can just get up and say anything without backing it up with proof.

While the Jamaica Observer has made good editorial judgment by allowing columnist John Maxwell to provide fine writing with progressive logic, it hasn't done the same in this case.

So if you care about journalistic integrity, put these people on blast:

Michael Dingwall: michael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com

Jamaica Observer Editorial: editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

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New study on women journalists

Finally, someone is going to make some sense out of women in the newsroom:

From IWMF:

The International Women's Media Foundation is launching a research project to examine the news media industry structure worldwide from a gender perspective. The project, called the Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media, will document the levels of involvement by women in the news media at professional, decision-making and governance levels.

"Women journalists' full participation in the news media furthers freedom of the press," said Jane Ransom, the IWMF's executive director. "We want to be aware of gaps in women’s leadership so that we can continue to create opportunities for women to participate more fully in the news media worldwide."

The IWMF's research project will build on and update an UNESCO-funded report, An Unfinished Story: Gender Patterns in Media Employment, written by Margaret Gallagher in 1995. Gallagher’s study, conducted in 43 countries, found that in most of the world, women’s professional representation in both news and other branches of the media ranged from the single digits to around 30 percent.

Research for the IWMF's Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media will be conducted through December 2009, and the project report will be published in June 2010.

Overseeing the global investigation is Carolyn M. Byerly, Ph.D., an associate professor of journalism at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Byerly conducts international research on women and media, media policy and other media issues related to gender, race and culture. Among her published work are two books, Women and Media: A Critical Introduction, and Women and Media: International Perspectives.



Black filmmaking and new media

The National Black Programming Consortium has always been on the cutting edge of helping innovative black filmmakers to integrate new media into their projects. As you might remember, I wrote an article recently about NBPC's latest venture, AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange. In addition to their announcement that they are accepting submissions for AfroPop for summer 2009, NBPC also has some other exciting stuff up its sleeves.

From NBPC:

New Media Institute 2008.

NBPC and its National Minority Consortia partners are launching the third annual New Media Institute (NMI), a professional development program and conference for media makers looking to stay current in the ever-changing landscape of digital media.

With NMI 08's focus on social networking and active citizenship, this year's conference will be held in the Washington, DC metro area following the historic presidential elections.

For more INFORMATION and APPLICATIONS, please visit http://www.nbpc.tv/nmi.



Kureishi on Islamic Radicalism

My hero, postcolonial literary genius Hanif Kureishi was featured in last week's New York Times about his new book, Something to Tell You.

I fell in love with Kureshi's work while I was in college, when I was first introduced to his book, The Buddha of Suburbia. Being of Jamaican ancestry, in a way, I was able to identify with Karim's experience of "otherness." This book, as well as Kureishi's other famed novella, My Son the Fanatic, were also ahead of the curve on discussing Islamic extremism, which he discusses in this article.

From The New York Times:

...Although Kureishi recognizes the sense of powerlessness and sting of
racism that have helped push many young British Muslims toward radicalism, he is
intolerant of such intolerance. “The antidote to Puritanism isn’t
licentiousness, but the recognition of what goes on inside human beings,”
Kureishi wrote in the title essay of “The Word and the Bomb.” He added:
“Fundamentalism is dictatorship of the mind, but a live culture is an
exploration, and represents our endless curiosity about our own strangeness and
impossible sexuality: wisdom is more important than doctrine; doubt more
important than certainty. Fundamentalism implies the failure of our most
significant attribute, our imagination.”

...As if it weren’t already clear, Kureishi isn’t a moralist. In one
conversation, he was adamant that he’s “not advocating anything,” just
observing. (He did, however, say he was opposed to Muslim women in Britain
wearing the veil, “because of what it symbolizes: a part of Islam that’s deeply
oppressive to women.”) At the reading in London in March, Kureishi was
dismissive of rhetoric about British national identity and the notion that
immigrants should become more integrated into the society. “I don’t think
there’s any obligation for anyone to integrate,” Kureishi told his audience.
“They are people entitled to live as they wish.” Besides, he added, why are only
immigrants or their children asked to integrate? “The royal family don’t
integrate,” he said. “Prince Philip doesn’t integrate.” Kureishi mentioned Rainer
Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 film “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,” in which a German
woman is reviled by her neighbors after she marries a Muslim guest worker.
“Everyone hates them,” Kureishi told me. “He says: ‘I’m trying to integrate
here. If we don’t integrate, they say we’re isolated. If we do integrate by
trying to marry your women, you hate us even more.’ The guy can’t win.”

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China, Russia - Cold War Part 2?

What the mainstream media and Bush administration is not telling you about the Russia/Georgia conflict:

From The Nation:

...Certainly Russia should be condemned for escalating the fighting beyond what was necessary to defend South Ossetians and Russian peacekeepers. But the US media have failed to provide the full backdrop. For one, the role of Saakashvili--who has sought to provoke Moscow over a range of issues in recent years--has been whitewashed. Georgia's president has often seemed more intent on currying favor with the Bush Administration, which has strongly supported Georgia's bid for NATO membership, than on looking after the interests of his people. The United States has also sent hundreds of military advisers to Georgia and welcomed Georgian troops in its "coalition of the willing" in Iraq. The irony is that the Bush Administration, which violated Iraq's sovereignty, now feigns outrage over Russia's actions. And for all the flowery talk of promoting Georgia's democracy, the Bush Administration has in the past year downplayed Saakashvili's violent crackdown on Georgian protesters, as well as his rigged election, declaration of martial law, attacks on opposition media and jailing of opponents...

...The West cannot simply claim the precedence of one principle (self-determination in Kosovo, for example) and then assert that of the other (national sovereignty in Georgia) without exposing its own hypocrisy and motivations based on power politics...

Could this conflict be the end of the Obama campaign and give rise to John McCain's so-called military astuteness, as many are opining now? Who knows? Neither one is giving a clear answer to what they are going to do about this issue if elected.

But the Beijing Olympics should also raise eyebrows in the White House and beyond too. Check out Naomi Klein drop knowledge about "McCommunism."

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HIV/AIDS and Trade Justice

After much hesitation, the HIV/AIDS advocates are finally realizing that a discussion needed to happened on how bilateral and regional trade agreements have detrimental effects on those living with the disease.

Specially there was a workshop at the XVII International AIDS conference in Mexico City last week to discuss the negative side of globalization on patent drugs and food security. Workshop moderator Ellen 't HOEN of Doctors without Borders admits that even "free trade really isn't free."

Here were some interesting notes from the workshop.

From Rapporteur's Report:

Review of regional and bilateral trade agreements restricting space created by Doha declaration on TRIPS and public health. Trade agreements, especially with US and EU, set additional TRIPS+ measures placing greater restriction e.g. patent term extensions.

These agreements are negotiated in secrecy. The measures related to medicines are negotiated as part of greater policy with complicated range of considerations. MOH has to become patent police to stop compulsory licensing.

Competition is the best way to get price reduction. Approaches to find solutions to patent system include UNITAID considering patent pool. Need to stimulate local production of essential medicines.

EU negotiating FTA with most developing countries. EU tries to get countries to harmonise to European law to limit access to generics. European Parliament has urged EU not to pursue this.

WTO can impose TRIPS + on countries wishing to join. Bilateral investment treaties place infinite data exclusivity which means government can never grant a compulsory license.

FTA between US and other American countries including NAFTA&CAFTA place significant barriers to access. In Guatemala data protected drugs cost from 249% to 846% more than non-data protected drugs.

CS has gained expertise in supporting the use of TRIPS flexibilities. Thai PLHIV brought FTA negotiations with US to a halt.

Activists play a role in pushing US gov and developing country CS have to

There is possibility of using international human rights law. Malaysia was called before the Commission on the Rights of the Child on the basis that the impact of TRIPS+ denying children the right to health.

Argument that IP is necessary for ongoing AIDS research premised on claim that Pharma spend a lot on R&D. Private industry is only running 15% of clinical trials, US gov 70%.

Always room to negotiate: can take a pro health perspective or a pro IP perspective.

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Radical Music Videos: Issac Hayes

My favorite Issac Hayes song, Walk on by.

RIP Black Moses

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Mahmoud Darwish 1941-2008

Palestinian poet and social activist Mahmoud Darwish was paid last respects today in Ramallah by crowds of supporters. He will be most remembered for his literary audacity and fairness in the Arab-Israeli question.

“Sarcasm helps me overcome the harshness of the reality we live, eases the pain of scars and makes people smile,” he said. “The sarcasm is not only related to today’s reality but also to history. History laughs at both the victim and the aggressor.”

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SA activist gives 'voice' to HIV/AIDS awareness

Description: Last week at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, the discussion came up around how to use digital tools to reach out to youth on protecting themselves against HIV/AIDS. According to a recent study conducted by UNAIDS, 45 percent of new HIV infections last year were among young people aged 15 - 24. HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations such as Taking It Global and Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS showcased how online social networking has created an unprecedented opportunity to mobilize youth on prevention and treatment options. However, a young woman from South Africa showed that sometimes it only takes one person to make a difference in the lives of others.

Tools Being Used: Podcast

What Is She Doing: Thembi Ngubane was diagnosed with HIV when she was 16 years old, and three years later decided to tape record her struggles living with the disease. Ngubane's blunt talks range from how she contracted HIV to her initial resistance to taking anti-retrovirals due to stigma in her community. Her recordings were collected by Radio Diaries, a U.S. non-profit that helps people document their lives, and have been broadcast to over 50 million people around the world. The recordings can also be heard on her website.

"I am very confident and I feel very happy about speaking out," Ngubane said. "Speaking out is really good for me, and I encourage you to have an HIV test and know your status."

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Katrina: 3 years on...

...and the song remains the same.

There hasn't been much progress in New Orleans.

From Kaiser Family Foundation:

A comprehensive new Kaiser Family Foundation survey of the experiences of New Orleans residents – the second since Hurricane Katrina – reveals a still-struggling population that gives very mixed reviews in key areas of the recovery efforts. Most residents feel forgotten by the nation and its leaders, yet are still optimistic about their city’s future.

In two critical areas, housing (72 percent) and crime (71 percent), the vast majority of city residents see little or no progress. In other key areas – medical facilities, public schools, jobs, and rebuilding neighborhoods – reviews are more mixed, but with majorities seeing little or no progress. Only in one area, levee repair, does a majority (60 percent) see progress.

“Residents are not satisfied with the pace of the recovery effort, but they do see it moving in the right direction,” Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said.

The survey also finds that an increasing number of residents say they face mental health challenges as the recovery drags on. In addition, the results show some easing of racial tensions, though many residents still see a city divided between haves and have-nots.

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L'Affaire Edwards

All I have to say about this is...

Was anyone surprised as I was that he was caught having an affair...with a woman?

Personally, I think the jury is still out on whether or not this "woman" really is a woman, since she does look a bit "odd."

I'm just saying...

While most people today are questioning the morality behind having an affair while one's spouse is suffering from cancer, I still stand by my comment that "whatever consenting adults do behind closed doors is of no interest to me."

Nonetheless, I get mad when politicians lie about their affairs once they get caught(Bill Clinton, Larry Craig...).


Summer Diversions: Last Tango in Paris

I was walking this morning on my way to work when I heard this playing on the outside loudspeaker of a Starbucks (Corporate coffee is evil, but Starbucks in-store music is solid). You will recognize that this is the theme music from the controversial 1970s film "Last Tango in Paris" put to techno music. The music makes you feel like you are in the music - without Marlon Brando's head drama.

It's dope! Check it out.



Let the games begin!

Isn't anyone feeling the love for the Beijing Olympics?

Actress Mia Farrow is running her own version of the Olympics in a refugee camp on the Sudan-Chad border, say The Associated Press.

Militant Islamic group threatens to terrorize Beijing, says NDTV.com.

China to Bush: Who you calling a terrorist? as reported in Metro International.

Over one thousand pro-Tibet protesters were arrested in Nepal ahead of the Olympics, says AFP.

California pastor Eddie Romero films himself painting slogans in upscale Beijing hotels like "Our World Our Nightmare" and is now missing. See his video here.

Of course, how can I do a Global Wire post without doing shameless self-promotion. Read my article this week in The Progressive, as well as my previous posts on the same topic of apathy among African Americans to pressure China on Darfur and Jim Crow Chinese-style.



Obama doesn't do race questions

In recent weeks people of color have started to question presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama's commitment to issues that concern them.

From Indian Country Today:

CHICAGO - Tom Arviso Jr., publisher of the Navajo Times, was primed and
pumped to ask Sen. Barack Obama a question during the presumptive Democratic
candidate's appearance at the 2008 UNITY: Journalists of Color convention July
26. He had been working for months with the Native American Journalists
Association to have his voice heard.

But at the last minute, UNITY organizers and CNN producers, who
televised the event, cut Arviso from the lineup. He was told that his question
could not fit into the senator's schedule. The newsman specifically wanted to
know how the candidate would help tribes to become more self-sustaining. Arviso
said the change was made ''basically at the request of the Obama camp,''
according to information he received from NAJA leaders. '

'I was quite disappointed,'' said Arviso, who ultimately left the
convention early in a sort of protest. ''What happened in Chicago, it just
didn't look like it was run as professionally as it could have been - and, I
think, a lot of that had to do with Obama's campaign. ... As journalists, we
don't like to be told ahead of time what we're able to ask and what we're
limited to. It boils down to a freedom of the press issue.''

The journalist has brought something up that has been festering in the campaign for a while. How does Obama deal with the "race questions" without alienating his white voters?

Then, there was this other incident at the National Urban League convention last week, where a group from the Uhuru Movement, a black nationalist group, heckled Obama during his speech.

This will be interesting how Obama handles this issue over the next few months.



Global Burma Day has a Facebook presence

Description: This Friday marks the 20th anniversary of the Burmese Uprising, when university students began gathering in the capital city of Rangoon to protest the military junta's suppression of democracy in the country. The uprising ended tragically on September 18 when 3,000 civilians were killed by the junta's armed forces. These events brought world attention to the Southeast Asian country and made Aung San Suu Kyi an international icon for peace and reconciliation. This weekend protesters will be marking the anniversary with peaceful demonstrations around the world. They are using Facebook to organize their efforts.

Tools Being Used: Facebook

What Are They Doing: The Burma Global Action Network has set up a Facebook group to educate Internet users about the events around the 8.8.88 Uprising and what they see are problems that continue to plague Burma today. Many of the grievances include the Chinese government continuing to block a United Nations arms embargo on Burma while it sells weapons to Burma's regime and the ongoing problem of getting aid to survivors of Cyclone Nargis. Users can learn about locations of demonstrations this weekend worldwide as well as view campaign videos from organizations like the U.S. Campaign for Burma.

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Bob Herbert done lost his mind!

Generally, I agree with New York Times columnist Bob Herbert on his take on racial politics, but when he is wrong, he is really wrong. I was at the gym yesterday morning when I saw him on MSNBC talking about "background phalluses." Based on the recent ad from the McCain campaign against Obama, this is Herbert's reasoning on why it is racist.

From The New York Times:

Evidence? John McCain needs no evidence. His campaign is about trashing the opposition, Karl Rove-style. Not satisfied with calling his opponent’s patriotism into question, Mr. McCain added what amounted to a charge of treason, insisting that Senator Obama would actually prefer that the United States lose a war if that would mean that he — Senator Obama — would not have to lose an election.

Now, from the hapless but increasingly venomous McCain campaign, comes the slimy Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad. The two highly sexualized women (both notorious for displaying themselves to the paparazzi while not wearing underwear) are shown briefly and incongruously at the beginning of a commercial critical of Mr. Obama.

The Republican National Committee targeted Harold Ford with a similarly disgusting ad in 2006 when Mr. Ford, then a congressman, was running a strong race for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee. The ad, which the committee described as a parody, showed a scantily clad woman whispering, “Harold, call me.”

Both ads were foul, poisonous and emanated from the upper reaches of the Republican Party. (What a surprise.) Both were designed to exploit the hostility, anxiety and resentment of the many white Americans who are still freakishly hung up on the idea of black men rising above their station and becoming sexually involved with white women.

Dude, what are you smoking? I nearly fell off the treadmill when Herbert went into his theories on sexual relations between black men and white women.

I really thought McCain was making fun of Obama pop culture status, but that's just me...

But, honestly, I really didn't see all this sex stuff in the ad. I realize race is going to play a large role in the campaign, but isn't this a bit much...

Watch the ad for yourself:

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No Stringer Bell Left Behind

Did anyone see this?

From Mother Jones:

Risk assessment? Personnel management? Distribution logistics? Those skills are as key to a successful drug corner as they are to a corner office. That's the theory behind the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), a recently launched nonprofit that teaches would-be Stringer Bells to apply their talents in the legit marketplace.

Based (appropriately) in a privately run prison in Cleveland, Texas, the program has put 370 inmates through a four-month crash course in which volunteer execs and Ivy League MBA students help them craft business plans. The vetting is intense: Prisoners must be within a year of release, renounce gang affiliations, complete a long questionnaire, memorize financial jargon, and submit to multiple tests and interviews. Only about one in five is accepted, and many get kicked out along the way for infractions from cheating to maintaining gang ties.

The selectivity seems to pay off—since PEP launched in 2004, virtually all of its graduates have found jobs, says spokeswoman Kami Recla, and more than 40 have launched businesses ranging from landscaping to leatherwork. More important, fewer than 5 percent are back behind bars so far, impressive in a state with a recidivism rate hovering around 30 percent. It remains to be seen, however, whether this success story is recession-proof.

Programs like this do have much success; however, it would be nicer if these volunteers would use their time more effectively, by putting their efforts into inner-city public schools to attempt to save these young men before they go into prison.

But that's just my humble opinion...

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HIV/AIDS rampant in the African Diaspora

If black America were its own country, maybe the United States would actually care about its own HIV/AIDS epidemic.

From Black AIDS Institute:

The United States leads the global response to HIV/AIDS, but fails to mobilize the same commitment to address the large and growing epidemic within its own borders, finds a new report released today by the Black AIDS Institute. "Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic" praises the United States for it vital efforts to address HIV worldwide, but criticizes the government's profoundly inadequate response to the epidemic within its own borders, where Black Americans are most severely affected by the disease.

"More Black Americans are infected with HIV than the total populations
of people living with HIV in seven of the 15 countries served by PEPFAR," noted
Phill Wilson, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute and one of the authors of the
report, referring to the U.S. government’s program of extraordinary aid for
countries severely impacted by the epidemic. "Were Black America a separate
country, it would elicit major concern and extensive assistance from the U.S.
government. Instead, the national response to AIDS among Black Americans has
been lethargic and often neglectful."

According to the report:

• Standing on its own, Black America would constitute the world’s 35th most
populous country, but would rank 16th in the world in the number of people
living with HIV.
• A free-standing Black America would rank 105th worldwide
in life expectancy and 88th in infant mortality. Blacks in the U.S. have a lower
life expectancy than do citizens of Algeria, the Dominican Republic or Sri
• Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, only four countries – and only two
in the Western Hemisphere – have adult HIV prevalence as high as the
conservative estimate (2% among adults) for Black America. Blacks represent
about one in eight Americans, but account for one in two people living with HIV
in the U.S.
• Despite extraordinary improvements in HIV treatment, AIDS
remains the leading cause of death among Black women between 25-34 years and the
second leading cause of death in Black men between 35-44 years.
• Black
women in the U.S. are 23 times more likely than White women to be diagnosed with
• Blacks make up 70% of new HIV diagnoses among teenagers and 65% of
HIV-infected newborns.

Meanwhile, as reported here a while ago, Jamaica continues to have problems dealing with its

From Tell Me More's blog:

Ingrid Brown, a newspaper writer from Jamaica, said her country's growing
Rastafarian community doesn't believe in using condoms, which means sharing HIV
prevention information could turn many of her readers away.

Kaiser Family Foundation will stream the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City on its website next week. It is a great opportunity to see how many countries, including the United States, have to say about the epidemic.

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Some thoughts on "Black in America"

While I was in Chicago for Unity, I had a chance to view the highly-publicized CNN documentary series, Black in America.

I have heard all the praises and complaints from both blacks and whites over the last week. While many African Americans complimented the cable news network for taking on such a task as to describe their lives, others said that it didn't really say anything new. I have also heard the many complaints that 'ABC' topic or 'XYZ' issue wasn't included in the program.

Being that I work in the media world, one has to understand that this was only a four-hour series, and there are only so many topics that can be touched on in that amount of time. Clearly, many of the topics could have been discussed for a whole hour, like health disparities or inner-city education. Also, it was clear that the targeted audience were non-black people who might not have much or any interaction with African Americans in their regular lives. So, it was probably better that it gave short descriptions about issues rather than focus on one or two issues for long periods.

But, it did seem, however, like the program was pandering to whites, specifically with the very first segment about the Rand family and the 'long-lost' white cousin. Also, I thought it was "strategic" on the part of CNN during the segment on interracial relationship that the program featured a black woman/white man couple. Personally I think this was done because that combination is "easier to swallow" than a black man/white woman couple - you know, too much history.

While I was at Unity, I actually talked with "Black in America" host Soledad O'Brien about her series. My colleagues and I also noticed some overarching topics missing from the program, such as being black and gay in America and the growing number of African and Caribbean immigrants changing the fabric in black America. O'Brien said that there was actually a segment on African immigrants, but it didn't make the final cut of the program.

But there were things in the program I really didn't like:

Money for Education?

Harvard Professor Roland Fryer, who is described in a New York Times article as "black America's and Harvard's rising star," (apparently, no one told me this...) proposed giving money to children as an incentive for getting an education. I realize that there is a history of financially incentive-ing education in poor and rural communities, but what about teaching the VALUE of education. I think Fryer is actually side-stepping the real problem of the breakdown of the black family and the lack of good role models in our communities for our children to motivate their educational pursuits. Furthermore, monetizing education forces crude, capitalistic beliefs on youth, rather than teaching them that an education opens their eyes to learning about themselves and others around them, in addition to improving their social mobility.

Single black women

I found this segment to be quite possibly the most offensive part of the program. O'Brien interviews "Something New" screenwriter Kriss Turner of Something New fame as an example of a successful black woman who just can't find a decent black man. The program shows her going on some dating website and finding the perfect man, only to soon learn that the prospective date has a spelling problem and thus indicating his low intelligence. I have spoken about my woes on the dating seen, but it seems like Turner's problem is that she simply a b%$@&. I'm just thinking aloud...even I've have my spelling bouts, and I'm a professional writer!