Barbara Lee speaks about her new book

I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and California Rep. Barbara Lee was at Hue-Man Bookstore to promote her book, Renegade for Peace and Justice. In the above clip I recorded, where she is joined by New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, Lee speaks about how veteran White House correpondent Helen Thomas inspired her to write the book, and why she spoke out about her traumatic experience with domestic violence.

As you may recall, Barbara Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against the Bush administration getting a blank check to run the so-called war on terror. In hindsight, isn't Lee the smartest chick in the game?!



No. 1 Ladies airs on HBO

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency premieres this Sunday night on HBO. I saw this last year in England, and it's great. Check out the great performances by Jill Scott and Idris Elba (who was also fab on Thursday night's episode of The Office). You all know the drill from me - support positive black programming when its on because you know how rare it is!

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No love for Gordon Brown

Meanwhile, President Obama isn't the only head of state getting slammed over the economy.

Whether or not you agree with this dude, you have to give him credit for calling out the PM. Could you even imagine anyone at Capital Hill doing this to Obama?

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Infanticide and ethical video sharing

Human rights group Survival International has accused American evangelical missionaries of inciting racism and presenting false information with a controversial online video denouncing infanticide among Brazilian indigenous tribes called “Hakani,” which has been viewed on YouTube over 350,000 times. The incident has put a spotlight on the fine line between digital activism and ethical responsibility.

The video depicts scenes, now deemed to be reenactments, of Indians in an Amazon village digging graves and burying several live children in them. It was directed by David Cunningham, the son of the founder of an American fundamentalist missionary organisation called ‘Youth with a Mission’, which has a branch in Brazil known as Jocum. The "Hakani" campaign also maintains a website and a Facebook group with more than 13,000 members. The campaign is urging people to donate money and write letters in support of the Muwaji's Law, which is a proposed Brazilian law that would make infanticide by indigenous groups illegal. Survival said the film is "faked, that the earth covering the children's faces is actually chocolate cake, and that the film's claim that infanticide among Brazilian Indians is widespread is false." While infanticide is common with some indigenous tribes with ill children, the practice has become more rare as medical access to rural communities has improved.

"I think the missionaries are stirring up hatred against the Indians, who they profess to be concerned about," said Fiona Watson, a Brazil campaigner for Survival, in a Reuters interview. "The infanticide is not being explained, it's being taken out of context. They have now suddenly become baby-killers."

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Doha revisited?

While President Obama was doing the comedy circuit last week, the global economy continues to collapse.

From Washington Post:

Global trade will shrink by 9 percent this year in the most devastating collapse since World War II, the World Trade Organization said Monday.

The WTO said commerce in rich countries would fall furthest, by about 10 percent. But poorer nations may suffer the most because they are more dependent on exports for growth.

Trade has grown unabated since 1982.

For the last 30 years trade has been an ever increasing part of economic activity, with trade growth often outpacing gains in output," WTO chief Pascal Lamy said.

"The depleted pool of funds available for trade finance has contributed to the significant decline in trade flows, in particular in developing countries."

Meanwhile in Addis Ababa, the Doha Round may still be breathing.

From Reuters:

"African countries would highly benefit from the conclusion of the Doha negotiations," WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy told reporters at a conference of African Union trade ministers.

Lamy said WTO ministerial discussions had been delayed for reasons including the change of administration in the United States.

He said he intended to resume the political discussion "as soon as possible" but was waiting for the right time.

"I'm waiting impatiently for signals because (a ministerial meeting) would be the right way to respond to the desire of developing countries and to give a signal that during this crisis, at least the low hanging fruit has been cropped."

African trade ministers have been discussing the global crisis and their relationship with the Group of 20 nations for two days at African Union headquarters in Ethiopia.

Lamy warned that protectionist policies by western governments could hurt poor countries during the crisis.

"Africa would probably be the biggest victim of protectionism if we don't resist it," he said. "We have to make sure we don't constrain trade more with protectionist policies."

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World Water Day 2009

Check out this great video from charity water's latest promo video which features the well-drilling work they funded in the Central African Republic. Directed by Simon Willows, "Time Bomb" track donated by Beck.

More than one billion people on the planet don't have access to clean drinking water. For $20 a person, non-profit charity: water funds clean water solutions like shallow wells, deep wells, rainwater harvesting systems, and spring protections to provide people in need with clean and safe drinking water.

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Spring Diversion: Jazzanova

It doesn't exactly feel like spring yet, but I will take anything that isn't snow these days. Here is some Jazzanove to help spring forward!



Inventing the Newspaper Remix

Another newspaper bites the dust this week, but they're not going out like Rocky Mountain News.

From Seattle Times:

Hearst Corp. says it is encouraged by the Web traffic it got on the first day the Seattle Post-Intelligencer went online-only.

Hearst spokesman Paul Luthringer says Wednesday's seattlepi.com got about 1.9 million page views, according to data provided it by Omniture.

The site averaged nearly 1.7 million daily page views in January.

The P-I, Seattle's oldest daily newspaper, published its last edition on Tuesday, let go most of its staff this week and converted to an all-digital news outlet.

But journalism's "old guard" continues to hold onto the past.

From New York Times:

...When we go online, each of us is our own editor, our own gatekeeper. We select the kind of news and opinions that we care most about.

Nicholas Negroponte of M.I.T. has called this emerging news product The Daily Me. And if that’s the trend, God save us from ourselves.

That’s because there’s pretty good evidence that we generally don’t truly want good information — but rather information that confirms our prejudices. We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber....

Not true Mr Kristoff. New media has presented an opportunity for Internet users to HAVE diversity in perspectives and information...I will let Michael Miner break it down.

...Does he think this is something new? Daily journalism has always been about the Daily Me. Back in the heyday -- when hawkers waved the mastheads of as many as a dozen titles -- readers traded their pennies for the ones that reflected the world the way each of them wanted it reflected. And when they cracked open their papers and plunged in, did they read everything? Of course not. They turned to the sections, the features, the bylines they knew they could count on. If it was a snappy, counterintuitive, iconoclastic argument they were looking for -- well, the place to find that was the comics page...

Look, why bother to argue this anymore. Here is what I think newspapers need to start doing.

Print journalists need to literally sit down at the table with business leaders and tech innovators and come up with a new business model for things formerly known as newspapers. They need to come up with the "remix" - an online entity that provides news and information, just like the Seattle P-I and Christian Science Monitor have done.

Just because the news is online instead of in print doesn't mean the quality of journalism goes down. In reality, if journalists use the same professional technics for gathering news, they can put out the same quality of information in a virtual newspaper. In fact, the quality of information would actually be enhanced when you add in the use of audio and video to go alongside text.

Of course, the elephant in the room is how to make money off the remix. I don't have the answer yet, but I will get back to you after I meet with MBA best friend and her tech geek boyfriend!


Social entrepreneurs go tech

Social enterprises - organizations or ventures that achieve their primary social or environmental mission using business methods - are growing in popularity around the world. With a ever collapsing global economy, social entrepreneurs are tapping into technology to help turn a profit while accomplishing their social missions.

Africa Bags, a non-profit organization founded by Todd and Holly Pettit in 2007, is economically empowering Africans by selling reusable cloth shopping bags that are hand-crafted in five small villages in northern Malawi. The bags are sold mainly in the United States and 100 percent of the profit goes back to the villages.

Todd Pettit has created a Ning page where users can find other like-minded social entrepreneurs helping to make the world more sustainable and purchase their products.

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Can the new FDA head deliver?

President Obama has selected Dr. Margerat Hamburg as the new FDA czar.

From Time:

Dr. Hamburg, 53, known as Peggy, would be the latest in a string of high-achievers to join the Obama administration, with double degrees from Harvard and a successful run as New York City's youngest health commissioner under her belt.

Hamburg's career has focused on public health, bio-defense and disease control, and New Yorkers credit her with a substantial reduction in tuberculosis rates and increase in childhood immunizations during her tenure. She later served as an assistant health secretary in the Clinton administration, and she's currently a top scientist at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a group founded by Ted Turner to reduce the danger posed by "loose nukes" and other weapons of mass destruction.

Importantly, Hamburg is believed to be an acceptable choice to both the pharmaceutical industry and consumer advocates, a narrow tightrope any nominee must walk to win Senate confirmation.

Sounds good, but what is she going to do about the peanuts?



When Tech is NOT appropriate: Diplomacy

Dude, what were you thinking? Was Desirée Rogers smoking rocks when this happened?

From YourHub:

If you have an open mind whatsoever, Google "gifts that Gordon Brown gave to Obama". You will see 3 PRICELESS gifts including an ornamental desk penholder made from the oak timbers of a Victorian ANTI-SLAVERY SHIP named the HMS Gannet. That's just ONE of the gifts, also pay attention to what Gordon Brown's wife gave to the Obama girls... they were both given VERY expensive dresses by a highly regarded European designer.

In return, the anointed one, our messiah, our President, gave Gordon Brown (our most important ally) a 25 DVD set of classic American films. Something anyone of us could drive down to Best Buy right now and purchase for under $100 bucks. Michelle Obama gave Gordon Brown's 2 boys replicas of Marine One (items that can be found at the Whitehouse gift shop for under $20. Before you start saying "So what, they're stupid gifts to the Brits", you need to know these gifts are honored traditions. They reflect upon the world opinion of this country greatly. Now he appears to be the "Commander in Cheap".

The Brits are not too pleased about this.

From NPR:

President Barack Obama's gift of a set of DVDs to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown appalled the British media, furious about the lack of traditional protocol afforded to Brown while he was in Washington.

Iain Martin, a columnist and blogger for the Daily Telegraph, wrote that he found Obama to be rudeness personified toward Britain.

Martin tells NPR's Robert Siegel that Britons are used to a full news conference when their prime minister is in town.

"Only at the last moment was it agreed that there would be a small press conference, and, I think, it was read as a metaphor for the concern that Obama really just didn't like having the Brits in town," Martin says. "Yes, he's dealing with the biggest global crisis in 70 years.

"Still, it would have been nice if he could have welcomed Brown with just a hint more enthusiasm."

I have to agree with Martin on this one. I love technology, but DVDS???, While I am happy to hear Obama apologized, sometimes the gifts you give are a reflection on you.

American DVD's have a different encoding on them that renders them inoperable on DVD players sold in the UK.

Prime Minister Brown is blind in one eye.

PM Brown brought dresses from a high-end store and books for President Obama's daughters. PM Brown's sons received replicas of Marine One, from the White House gift shop.

The gift exchange reminds me of those instances where folks unexpectedly show up and you have to race around your house looking for some to give to them instead of admitting that you don't have anything for them.

We are taught that it is the thought that counts in gift-giving. The thoughts behind the gifts to the British PM seem to be little to none at all.

Mr. President, next time, please don't raid the $5 DVD rack at Wal-Mart for your gifts.

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"Cyberela" bridges digital divide

As activists around the world celebrated International Women’s Day this week, this is a great opportunity to highlight the progress and barriers women and girls still face around the world. In the tech world, women are still disproportionately affected by the digital divide – the lack of economic and educational opportunities to access the Internet and other communication tools. However, there are many organizations around the world that are charged to close the gap. One group is using new media along with radio to do this.

Brazilian nonprofit Communication, Education and Information on Gender (CEMINA) was founded in 1988 to educate poor women how to create and produce their own radio shows. The organization also works with local community radio stations across Brazil to run “telecenters,” where both women and men can learn various Internet tools. In 1999 CEMINA started “Cyberela,” an initiative that identifies enterprising women to create their own radio programming and upload them online. The radio programs are geared towards other women in their communities who feel empowered by the discussion topics such as education, agriculture and health care, which give way to spark action.

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GOP: "Change" in Race Relations?

I had a lot of time this weekend to think about the kerfuffle between newly-minted RNC chairman Michael Steele and talk show host Rush Limbargh.

If you care to hear them, these are my thoughts:

For a political party that is against affirmative action, Michael Steele was put up in his new position to be the "new face" of the GOP mainly because of his race. Let's not forgot that Steele was NOT the first choice for his position, and they probably would have voted for that Magic Negro dude had John McCain won the election. This is not to say Steele isn't qualified for the job; he is actually a very smart person, and I wish the best of luck to him in moving his party forward, although I don't think the party will move too quickly with him.

Speaking of "great white hopes" in the Republican party, it is also kind of interesting how Bobby Jindal's national political career started and ended within 24 hours. Oh boy, watching him can really put you to sleep. The Republicans should have put up Sarah Palin to do the speech; at least her stupidity is entertaining to watch.

The more things "change," the more things remain the same.



Suspect behavior in Zim!!!

No surprising news out of Harare today.

From CNN:

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, was killed Friday in a car wreck that also left him injured, according to senior officials with his party.

President Robert Mugabe visited Tsvangirai -- his long-time political rival -- at a Harare hospital, according to a reporter at the scene.

Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, took office last month under a power-sharing deal with Mugabe following a contentious election.

Tsvangirai's aide and driver also were injured in the head-on collision with a large truck, according to Tsvangirai's spokesman, James Maridadi.

All four were taken to the hospital but the conditions of the driver and aide were not immediately known.

State media reported Tsvangirai suffered head and neck injuries but his Movement for Democratic Change party has not confirmed that.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told CNN he spoke to Tsvangirai at the hospital and he was in a "relatively stable" condition...

..."She stood by her husband for over 30 years," Cooke said. "She's watched him be beaten and imprisoned. Now at this somewhat hopeful moment where her husband has been sworn in as prime minister, it's unfortunate she doesn't ultimately get to see an end to the crisis."

Tsvangirai and Susan, who were married in 1978, have six children, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Last month, she told a BBC affiliate that the past decade had been an "endurance test" for her husband and his MDC colleagues.

"People went through hell, but they stuck to their ideals to seek change through democratic means," she said. "This was a struggle that we endured with MDC cadres, activists, supporters and peace-loving Zimbabweans.

"To them I say thank you so much for the support they gave the MDC to reach this momentous period."

The Mugabe Chronicles continue...



African bloggers stand up to bad governance

Blogging for social justice has taken off throughout the African continent in recent years. The international television channel, Current, recently aired a “pod,” or a viral video featuring two bloggers who are taken on their governments.

“African Bloggers” features two enduring citizen journalists who are taking risks to tell the truth about political corruption. Cedric Kalonji, a Congolese journalist, started his blog in 2005 as a way to communicate with his friends. However, his writings on bad governance in his country not only grew in popularity, but also gained the attention of the Congolese authorities. Chadian blogger Makaila Nguebla also came under suspicious eyes when he began blogging about the horrors the country’s government has imposed on its citizens. Despite the dangers that come along with their “line of work,” both activists are glad they are making a difference.

“We tell ourselves everything is worthwhile, so long as we contribute to shaking up the system,” Nguebla said.

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Almost Spring Diversion:Stardust

Despite the fact that there is about two feet of snow on my doorstep, I still say music sounds better with you! (I know its corny, but whatever...)



Iraq, Afghanistan and Mexico

So, if you haven't been paying attention to the news lately on the war front, let me break it down for you.

President Obama is "allegedly" bringing the troops home by August 2010, while an additional 17,000 enter Afghanistan.

Yes, I am happy to see Iraq disaster come to some kind of end, but for some reason, I'm not feeling the love like the rest of America.

From Reuters:

American public opinion is broadly on the side of President Barack Obama's decision to end U.S. combat operations in Iraq in 18 months, leaving 50,000 troops behind for stability.

"I think it's time to bring 'em home," said Dallas-area dentist Andre Ellis, 46.

"We can't afford it, that's the bottom line. The country's broke," he said.

The timetable, promised by Obama during his campaign for president, marked the beginning of the end to a war that cost the United States tremendously -- financially and in prestige -- and defined the presidency of George W. Bush. The war has killed 4,250 U.S. soldiers since it began in March 2003.

Withdrawing resources from Iraq will allow Obama to boost troop numbers in Afghanistan, which he has declared central to the U.S. fight against terrorism. He hopes it will also help him slash a ballooning $1.3 trillion (911 billion pound) budget deficit.

Not too fast, America. Because the Bush administration left Afghanistan hanging for so long, it is back to pre-9/11 conditions, with the Taliban being ringleaders. I wouldn't be surprised if more than 17,000 troops end up hitting the ground. And lets not forget Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Somalia are on the horizon.

In addition, if you watched Meet the Press this morning, you should also be aware of the madness in Mexico that Washington has to keep an eye on, and reevaluate US-made ammunition that is fueling the war there.

From Associated Press:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. is in the position to provide more help to Mexico in the fight against drug cartels operating near the U.S. border.

Gates says some of the old biases against cooperation between the U.S. and Mexican militaries are being set aside amid the growing violence. He sees the U.S. providing Mexico with training, resources and surveillance and intelligence capabilities.
In Gates' words, the border drug war is "clearly a serious problem."

Gates also praises Mexican President Felipe Calderon (fay-LEE'-pay kahl-duh-ROHN') for taking on the drug cartels. The Pentagon chief says one reason the situation has gotten so bad is that previous Mexican presidents wouldn't deal with the problem head-on.

For more on the war next door, check out this great documentary Current TV did recently.

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