This Changes Everything

Naomi Klein & Avi Lewis: Climate Change Could Be Catalyst to Build a Fairer Economic System

Naomi Klein on The Leap Manifesto & What a System of Climate and Economic Justice Looks Like

This Changes Everything: New Naomi Klein & Avi Lewis Film on the Fight for Climate Justice (Pt. 2)

Posted in Climate Change | Comments Off on This Changes Everything

Migrants and Refugees

Outsourcing a Refugee Crisis: U.S. Paid Mexico Millions to Target Central Americans Fleeing Violence

“La Jaula de Oro”: New Feature Film is an “Epic Poem” of Migration through Mexico

Extended Interview with Director Diego Quemada-Diéz on “La Jaula de Oro” and Migration to the U.S.

Posted in Migration | Comments Off on Migrants and Refugees

Egypt Overthrows the Pharaoh

DN Wednesday, February 2, 2011: Please answer all questions:


  1. Pro-Mubarek agitators have entered the square on camel- and horseback, inflicting violence and particularly targeting Al-Jazeera journalists. They’ve been identified as being security forces in civilian clothes, oil company employees, and government workers. Why has the military allowed them past their checkpoints? The military has warned that they’ll intervene decisively if there’s violence against peaceful demonstrators. Do you think they’re looking for a reason to intervene or are they on the side of the people?
  2. Avaaz has a petition of international support which is aiming for a million signatures, which they then plan to broadcast through radio and satellite TV into Egypt. Read it and, if you agree, click on the link to sign.
  3. Foreign Policy in Focus gives surprising details about the Muslim Brotherhood. How do they describe themselves? (Cut and paste) Does this change your perception of them? Comment on this excerpt: “The Brotherhood is probably the most influential Islamist organization, with chapters all over the world. It has renounced its earlier support of violence and now prefers to acquire power politically. ‘The Brotherhood is a collection of national groups with different outlooks, and the various factions disagree about how best to advance its mission,’ write Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke in a 2007Foreign Affairs article. ‘But all reject global jihad while embracing elections and other features of democracy. There is also a current within the Brotherhood willing to engage with the United States.'”
  4. Phyllis Bennis, Middle East fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, has written Tunisia’s Spark, Egypt’s Flame: The Middle East is Rising. About halfway through the article, she talks about what this might mean for Israel. What will it likely mean for Palestinians in Gaza? (Cut and paste) How will that affect them? She writes, “The United States has military bases in Egypt, it pays off Egypt to guarantee its access to and effective control of the Suez Canal, and it relies on Egypt to carry out interrogation by any means necessary on detainees in the so-called ‘global war on terror.'” What might be different now?
Posted in Middle East, Politics, US Foreign Policy, Violence | Comments Off on Egypt Overthrows the Pharaoh

Two Half-Truths Don’t Make a Whole, and Other Rhetorical Devisives

DN Thursday, January 13, 2011: Research and write 200 words on the following topic:


When asked whether Wikileaks was “a threat to national security,” Julian Assange said, “We should all stop responding to that question unless it is well-phrased.” What did he mean by that, and how does the phrasing of a question frame the answer? Politicians and commentators have twisted Jared Loughlin’s intentions to serve their own agendas. Hilary Clinton told Yemen, “We have extremists in our country too.” Is Loughlin an extremist or an untreated schizophrenic? Chip Berlet uses Loughlin to discredit critics of Bilderberg and the Federal Reserve. Is there any relationship? Sarah Palin says that the act of one evil person can’t be blamed on political debate. Do an analysis of Sarah Palin’s “blood libel” speech and identify what makes her successful with so many Americans. What are the rhetorical devices she uses? Develop a catchy name for one of the rhetorical tricks and show how it works. What question could be posed to Sarah Palin that would disarm this device?

Posted in Politics, Violence, WikiLeaks | Comments Off on Two Half-Truths Don’t Make a Whole, and Other Rhetorical Devisives

Crazed Killers and Conspiracists

DN Monday, January 10, 2011: Please answer all three questions:


  1. Research this headline on the web and post your findings: Accused Airliner Bomber, CIA Operative Faces Trial. Cut and paste a short segment with new facts not mentioned in the DN item.
  2. Julian Assange has been accused of endangering US lives and of terrorism, because he’s publicized violent acts committed by US soldiers and mercenaries. Yet no US life has been threatened based on Wikileaks. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and others on Fox News have explicitly encouraged violence against elected US officials. Was the attack on Gifford an act of politically motivated terrorism? Should it be enough for Palin to remove the crosshairs map from her website? Should these individuals and organizations be indicted for inciting terrorism?
  3. Chip Berlet on “The Becking of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords”: Berlet connects Jared Loughlin to “Federal Reserve conspiracists” who are “anti-Semetic.” Does this seem like a stretch? Is there any evidence that Loughlin even knew Gifford was Jewish? This post prints some of Loughlin’s MySpace rants, which seem to be against the CIA and police (“pigs”). He also complains of being a 22-year-old virgin, and that no one’s texting him for anal sex. There’s no mention of currencies, but there are clear signs that he’s threatening violence. His youtube introduction is incoherent gibberish except for a reference to currencies and the list of books he likes (To Kill a Mockingbird and The Wizard of Oz are two.) From this, Berlet extrapolates, “That said, why did he pick the target he picked? And the answer, I think, is found in some of his obsessions with things like currency, with federal manipulation of money… There are references to basically conspiracies in which the government is oppressing the people and, perhaps in his mind, engaging in mind control on behalf of vested interests who control the money. This is a longstanding right-wing conspiracy theory.” Amy asks him about Gifford being the first Jewish AZ representative and he replies, “Well, again, it’s all speculation, but if there was a connection, it would be the idea that Jews own the banks, that there’s a Zionist world plot to control the money supply, and that part and parcel of this conspiracy involves the Bilderberg banking group, the Rothschild family, the Schiff family, and traitorous politicians who are in league with the Jew bankers.” Amy asks, Is what he says, or what that theory talks about?” Berlet replies, “No, it’s not what he says. It’s what reading for 30 years right-wing literature I can pretty much parody their crazy theories and their disgusting bigotry. So I apologize. That is the racist anti-Semitic interpretation of the federal government conspiracy. But the whole spread of conspiracy thinking in America fuels this tendency.” Does this seem far-fetched to you, to associate those against private bankers owning the Federal Reserve with a psychotic killer? Is either anti-Semitic?
  4. As Michael Parenti points out, the opposite of a conspiracy theorist is someone who believes that wealth and power just happen, without design. The label “conspiracy theorist” seems to be a common way of dismissing someone without refuting any of their data. From this post on Chip Barlet, this seems to be his most common theme, for everything from JFK to 911 to the Federal Reserve. He sees those who question the official story of 911 also as anti-Semitic, which also seems to be a common theme. The post that criticizes Berlet accuses Democracy Now of being funded by the Ford Foundation, but after looking at Ford’s list of recipients, isn’t everyone? However, the last time that DN aired a debate on 911 was in 2004 when Berlet debates David Ray Griffin after writing a bad review of his book, The New Pearl Harbor. Griffin raises a number of questions about how the official story of 911 defied both logic and physics. Rather than addressing them, Berlet uses the rhetorical trick of picking an obscure detail, which isn’t central to the debate, and saying that Griffin can’t prove it. Amy Goodman seems to side with Berlet. By the end of the debate, she asks Griffin to name one structural engineer who says that it’s impossible for the fires to have caused the building to go down. He refers her to his 40 pages of notes. She says, “Name just one. Name just one structural engineering expert who said it is not feasible that the planes caused the towers to go down.” He can’t, and the debate ends with Berlet condescending complimenting Griffin for having the courage to come on the show with him. However, since then 1411 architectural and structural engineers have signed the petition for 911 truth. Why hasn’t Amy interviewed Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth? Do you think she should? Does it call her objectivity into question that she framed this as a debate with someone who she knew was hostile to Griffin’s ideas, rather than allowing him to present his points and evidence? Why didn’t she do this with Dr. Gabor Mate or Derrick Jensen?
Posted in Politics, Terrorism | 1 Comment

Fathers of Terrorists? You Choose.

DN Friday, January 7, 2011:


  1. Do further research on one headline and report back.
  2. From Wall Street to the White House: Obama Taps JPMorgan Exec William Daley for Chief of Staff: Obama jokes, “And needless to say, Bill also has a smidgen of awareness of how our system of government and politics works. You might say it is a genetic trait.” What does he mean? When he visited the White House as a child, was it as a tourist? Who was his father and what were they to the Kennedy’s? What was his father’s relationship to corruption?
  3. If Daley was the chief architect of NAFTA, what does that mean for free trade agreements, like Colombia and Panama, and their likelihood of going forward?
  4. As Activists Plan Protest for 9th Anniv. of Guantánamo, Former Gitmo Commander Subpoenaed in Spain over Prisoner Torture: Andy Worthington talks about the problem with some prisoners, “Now, 58 of these are Yemenis, and it’s been a year now since the President announced a moratorium on releasing any prisoner from Guantánamo to Yemen because of the uproar that came about because Christmas 2009, a Nigerian man tried to blow up a plane, and it was—it came out that he was apparently recruited in Yemen. So Yemen is now this entire terrorist country.” Who was the Nigerian man who was “radicalized” in Yemen? Who was his father? Is his story credible? Why or why not?
Posted in Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, Torture | 1 Comment

Unions and Moonbeams

DN Thursday, January 6, 2011


  1. Do further research and report on one of the headlines.
  2. Crackdown on Organized Labor: States Call for Wage & Benefits Cuts, Urge Laws to Curb Union Influence: In California, the public sector unions negotiated to put their pensions into the stock market if the state taxpayers would cover their losses. Was this fair? The Santa Cruz County Teacher’s Union refused to negotiate on healthcare – either deductibles or paying a percentage of premiums – until the district closed one-third of elementaries. Was this “all about the kids?” Do negotiations by public sector employees – teachers, firefighters, police – create an adversarial relationship with the cities they serve? Do they prevent trained volunteers or part-timers from serving these functions, rather than consolidating locations to save money on staff?
  3. Zweig talks about the long history in the US of capital and corporate power resisting anything that labor wants, that labor needs. Whose capital funds public sector employees? Who is the corporation? Who profits from undercutting them? Does the union paradigm apply when the public is the employer?
  4. Greenhouse, Zweig and Levine all seem to agree that raises should not be frozen, nor union power reduced, nor pensions lowered. Levine feels that “the till’s not empty” because we’re an enormously wealthy country that’s still funding wars and bailing out banks. However, he doesn’t propose how the states would get this money from the Federal government. The others are looking at raising taxes, which would hit the parent generation hardest – who are paying for daycare, healthcare, saving for college, taking care of aging parents, and trying to save for retirement. Without pensions, ordinary workers need to save a lump sum large enough so they won’t outlive their savings, in a way that’s both secure and fast-growing. Are unionized public sector employees concerned with solving these problems, or just making themselves an exception at the expense of the public?
  5. In his first day in office, as reported by the LA Times, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that he’s revisiting Prop 13: “The new governor said his budget proposal next week would include plans to return to cities and counties many government functions that Sacramento took over after Proposition 13 passed. The measure ‘started the centralization of power,’ Brown told reporters before entering the closed-door meeting. Afterward, he expanded on that idea, saying Proposition 13 ‘took away the power of counties to tax, for the most part; it sent the decisions up to Sacramento. So we want to redistribute all that.'” Will this shift responsibility for delivery of services down to the county along with the power to add new taxes, but keep the 11% income tax, 9.25% sales tax, and existing property tax in Sacramento? If a home’s potential sale value is 5X a couple’s annual income, and property tax is 1% of the value of the home, what percentage of their annual income would this be? What would be the total State taxes they would pay on every dollar they spend (income tax + property tax + sales tax.) What is it when you add in 20% Federal income tax + 12.5% FICA?
Posted in Economics | Comments Off on Unions and Moonbeams

Living Wills and the Equality of Life

DN Wednesday, January 5, 2011: Discuss this question with your family or friends:


Return of the “Death Panel” Myth is a “Travesty,” Says Dr. Atul Gawande: Gawande talks about doctors having end-of-life discussions with patients:

“So, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, they had a community effort. And the result was, over 90 percent of the population ended up having what they call advanced directives, a living will. The doctors actually paid attention to what they had written down, which often gets ignored. And it was not a matter of follow what this piece of paper says. The power of it proved to be that for people with terminal illness, they had thought about what might happen as they got sicker, whether they wanted to be at home or in a hospital when the end came, how much control they wanted over their life.”

“And by being able to articulate their values and concerns about facing that kind of illness, two things happened in La Crosse. First of all, the number of people who died in intensive care units and being kept alive on ventilators and on machines, past the point of being even conscious of what’s going on, declined markedly. The costs of people in the last year of life went down markedly. There was no change in how long people lived in La Crosse, Wisconsin. And it really became a model community for the entire country. They were the ones. They said the one barrier we have left in La Crosse is that the doctors don’t have the time to talk to patients, because they’re only paid for a short visit. Having the time to talk at length to people who are really, really sick, facing a few months to live, they needed to be compensated for that. And that led—they were the starters of the very provision that could help people decide, do they want hospice care versus hospital care, and having the dollars in place to make those conversations less of a burden on the medical community.”

As a hospice volunteer, we were encouraged to discuss and form a living will, telling our loved ones what we wanted in terms of interventive treatments if we were unable to communicate. Do you think this is a good idea for people of all ages? Have you had this conversation with those close to you? Have you put it in writing? Should doctor offices give out living will forms?

Does fear of death drive our healthcare systems, rather than quality of life? Where does the equality of life figure into a for-profit healthcare industry, where intellectual property laws prevent developing countries from producing medicines?

Posted in Healthcare | Comments Off on Living Wills and the Equality of Life

Integrity and Ivorité: Manning and Gbagbo

DN Tuesday, January 4, 2011: Please answer three of the following questions:


  1. Psychologists Protest Army’s Treatment of Bradley Manning: Read his attorney’s account of Manning’s typical day. Do you think this constitutes torture? If the purpose of detention is to prevent someone from causing harm to others, is there any non-punitive reason for this treatment?
  2. Below are three excerpts from, December 15, 2010, “The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention” by Glenn Greenwald. They cite Bradley Manning’s online chat with Lamo, the person who turned him over to the CIA. What do you think of his motives? Has the response been what he hoped for, or are we screwed? Does the military have a right to require absolute obedience once a person enlists?
    1. Lamo: what’s your endgame plan, then?. . .
    2. Manning: well, it was forwarded to [WikiLeaks] – and god knows what happens now – hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms – if not, than [sic] we’re doomed – as a species – i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens – the reaction to the video gave me immense hope; CNN’s iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded – people who saw, knew there was something wrong . . . Washington Post sat on the video… David Finkel acquired a copy while embedded out here. . . . – i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public. ..if i knew then, what i knew now – kind of thing, or maybe im just young, naive, and stupid . . . im hoping for the former – it cant be the latter – because if it is… were fucking screwed (as a society) – and i dont want to believe that we’re screwed.
    3. Manning described the incident which first made him seriously question the U.S. Government: when he was instructed to work on the case of Iraqi “insurgents” who had been detained for distributing so-called “insurgent” literature which, when Manning had it translated, turned out to be nothing more than “a scholarly critique against PM Maliki”: i had an interpreter read it for me… and when i found out that it was a benign political critique titled “Where did the money go?” and following the corruption trail within the PM’s cabinet… i immediately took that information and *ran* to the officer to explain what was going on… he didn’t want to hear any of it… he told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the FPs in finding *MORE* detainees… i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against…
    4. Manning explained why he never considered the thought of selling this classified information to a foreign nation for substantial profit or even just secretly transmitting it to foreign powers, as he easily could have done:
    1. Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious- i could’ve sold to russia or china, and made bank?
    2. Lamo: why didn’t you?
    3. Manning: because it’s public data
    4. Lamo: i mean, the cables
    5. Manning: it belongs in the public domain -information should be free – it belongs in the public domain – because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge – if its out in the open… it should be a public good.
  3. Go to the website 6 billion others and click on search of 6Bo testimonies. Put in Palestinian territory as the country parameter and launch search. Listen to some of the video clips, especially of Aghsam and Misbah, two students at the university. How does the wall figure in their lives? How do other restrictions of living under occupation affect them?
  4. Ivory Coast Showdown: A Discussion on the Political Crisis in West Africa: Gnaka Lagoke, an Ivory Coast political analyst, talks about the differences between Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and longtime opposition leader Alassane Ouattara. Which one is the economist and which is the politician? Who is the socialist and who follows neoclassical practices? Which one was a freedom fighter? Who is the liberal? Who represents the North and the South, and how do they differ? Who supported the policies of the IMF?
  5. What is “Ivorité?” How does it relate to the election conflict, according to Horace Campbell? Who do you agree with in the debate, if you agree with either?
Posted in Africa, Middle East, Politics, WikiLeaks | 1 Comment

Paying Reparations Forward

DN Wednesday, December 29, 2010: Discuss the following questions with your family:


  1. Allan Nairn believes that the middle class should pay the indigenous people back for their “unearned inheritance” – good food, clean water, safe neighborhoods, warm houses, all “given” to them while they were watching cartoons on a Saturday morning. Is this true? Did our generation get all the basics for a good and secure life without anyone having to work for it? Should the working class pay taxes for reparations for the stolen gold decorating Versailles and the Vatican?
  2. Is there another way to pay reparations forward, so that every child seven generations from now is born with the opportunity for a good and secure life? Speculate on some ways that this could be accomplished.
  3. What is Allan Nairn’s relationship to Amy Goodman historically? How was his skull fractured in East Timor?
  4. Would it be a good thing for US labor to compete with Chinese sweatshop workers, even if they demand higher wages? Why or why not? Will this increase employment in the US?
  5. Do you agree with Allan Nairn that the US military is a terrorist organization and that paying taxes is giving material support to them?
Posted in History, US Foreign Policy, Violence | 1 Comment