n. 1. the ideal made real (derived
worldview based on universal compassion
World is Being Blogged
Blog Archive, April 8, 2008-November 15, 2008
(For current posts, click on Topia.net Home)
Sunday, November 15, 2008
International Protest Against California Proposition 8Marks New Phase in American Civil Rights Movement
According to the New York Times, protests against California Proposition 8 and for marriage equality took place today in eight countries, 50 states and 300 cities.
At the San Francisco protest, Dr. Amos Brown, President of the San Francisco NAACP, spoke about black-gay solidarity in the civil rights movement, and encouraged those seeking marriage equality to learn from the experiences of the African-American civil rights struggle: "Don't let anyone turn you around. Keep the faith. You will win."
Below are some pictures from today's San Francisco rally, a video of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaragoisa, speaking at the gathering in his city, and a video compilation of recent protests by IntheMo.com. The protest organizing website, Join the Impact, has photos and videos from other rallies around the world, and information about future events.
Photo: San Francisco marriage equality rally, November 18, 2008. Source: topia.net.
Photo: San Francisco marriage equality rally, November 18, 2008. Source: topia.net.
Photo: San Francisco marriage equality rally, November 18, 2008. Source: topia.net.
The struggle for marriage equality in California has become nationalized, with groups on both sides of the issue recognizing the huge stakes in Proposition 8, a ballot measure that would overturn a recent California State Supreme Court decision declaring an end to discrimination in marriage. Opponents of marriage equality nationally, led by the Mormon and Catholic churches, have outraised equal rights activists by millions of dollars to date.
Video: No on 8 PSA: No vs. Yes
The argument for marriage equality is a simple one: affirming equal rights and justice under the law, and basic fairness. Opponents of equality know that the only way to win their case is to change the California Constitution, and override its fundamental "equal protection of the laws" guarantee. That is exactly what Prop 8 would do.
Video: Ellen DeGeneres Voices Opposition to Prop 8
If you are in favor of the principle of fairness and equality under the law, please find a way to support the No on Prop 8 campaign. The electoral result on this issue in California will be a turning point in the quest for civil rights in America, one way or another.
Global Priorities: Feeding Markets, Starving the Hungry
Editor's Note: The following article by Devinda Sharma of Share the World's Resources,reprinted whole here from Common Dreams, provides a crucial perceptual antidote to mainstream media's coverage of the $700 billion bailout plan for the financial industry currently under consideration by the US Congress.
The article helps us understand the bailout in terms of its global implications and from a much needed global social justice perspective. What the article doesn't cover, from a US perspective, are fundamental social, political, and economic equity questions concerning why the government is focusing on bailing out financial institutions rather than homeowner borrowers.
The priorities of this bailout are fundamentally flawed on every level, and the profound impact on the American government's future ability to address longstanding social needs, like healthcare, education, and poverty, can hardly be overestimated. The prospect of precipitously wasting enormous resources that could be used to create a more just, peaceful, sustainable world makes this the transcendent political issue of the moment.
The world's private-sector giants have stepped on a financial minefield. In the past six months, three of America's top five investment banks have disappeared. The remaining two - Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs - are gasping for breath. While Morgan Stanley is considering merger options, the stocks of Goldman have slumped.
Strong tremors were felt all over the world.
In what appears to be a classic example of ‘public-private' partnership, the US government stepped in to bail out AIG by agreeing to lend US $85 billion in emergency funds in return for a 79.9 percent stake, which means effectively taking control of the world's largest insurance company. In the week following the mayhem in Wall Street, central banks in Britain, the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, Russia and India have pumped in US $600 billion in multiple rescue acts.
Ironical isn't it? The private-sector giants are ultimately rescued by the government's treasury.
In the past year, the US treasury has already spent US $900 billion in bailouts. With the IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn warning that the worst is yet to come, taxpayers all over the world will eventually have to shell out more to cover up the huge losses being incurred by the private giants. It reminds me of the old saying: heads you win, tails I lose.
Sure, the markets won. The US President George Bush could not remain a silent spectator. "Government intervention is not only warranted, but essential," he said urgently before offering the mother of all bailouts - a US $1 trillion package. Sure, within hours the world's markets began to smile again.
The political urgency with which the US government (and governments elsewhere) came to the rescue of the financial system also exposed their double standards. The US $600 billion coughed out in just one week could have completely eradicated hunger (the 854 million people estimated by the FAO to go to bed hungry each night) from the face of the planet. The additional US $900 billion that the US has spent in the past one year could have lifted the world's estimated 2 billion poor people from poverty, and that too on a long-term sustainable basis. The one trillion dollar bailout package that George Bush is promising could have wiped out the last traces of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and squalor from the face of the Earth.
Only if global leadership was honest enough could the same amount of urgency be demonstrated in tackling world poverty and hunger. There would have been no need for the United Nations to provide a cover-up for their collective guilt in the form of Millennium Development Goals. Poverty would have been confined to history. Hunger would have already been banished.
Coming back to the collapse, this is in essence the market mantra. When the going is good, the government must step back and allow the bull a mad run. Profit becomes the sole motive, and investors lap it up. We have been repeatedly told that ‘The markets will correct itself'. The investment banks have always reassured governments, regulators and investors that they have the expertise to manage asset risks.
Profits are raked in by capitalist corporate marauders. A few corporate houses make billions, present fake numbers and arguments, and walk away with the cake. Credit ranking industries provide them with the highest honours. And when the collapse comes, the losses are invariably picked up by the average taxpayer on whose savings the governments provide the bailouts.
The trillion dollar question that arises is: Why should the governments intervene? Aren't the markets supposed to be self-regulatory and self-contained? And more importantly, why should the governments try to keep the markets alive?
Before we investigate the matter any further, let me assure you of one thing. These firms were no ordinary business houses. As others have said, they represented the pride of the American financial system. They had the best of talent, attracting the highest achievers from business schools. They advised foreign governments and provided expert opinions. They have rewritten economic and monetary policies for the World Bank/IMF and the World Trade Organisation. Such has been the power of the markets that the mainline economic thinking the world over has become its mute disciple.
Privatisation has been the economic buzzword of our times, forcing the governments to open up their markets to foreign direct investment. Markets became the ultimate economic nirvana.
In India, pressure is on to disinvest the remaining public sector companies, and now pressure is also building up to privatise the nationalised banks. The arguments are the same as we have heard before, and every mainstream economist worthy of his title will argue in favour of privatising the nationalised banks. But when the private sector goes bust or the markets explode, it is invariably the governments that are expected to nationalise them.
India managed to escape the heavy shocks thanks to the left parties, but the tremors still forced the Reserve Bank of India to pump US $18 billion into the domestic banking system through the liquidity adjustment facility. Let us not forget that the UPA government was keen to open up the financial sector, to bring in a legislation to allow dilution of government equity in public sector banks, and to reform the insurance sector. Further privatisation of banks and opening up of the insurance sector will now be on hold following the global meltdown.
Reviewing the impact of the financial crisis, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked his ministers to "stay alert on the global turmoil." Without drawing any lessons from the collapse, Finance Minister P Chidambaram however remains bullish on financial reforms. If the left parties had allowed him to have his way, India would have been in the throes of a terrible economic and political crisis.
The US $85 billion bailout for AIG by the US government is the biggest nationalisation in history. Rescuing AIG was crucial because its failure posed a much bigger threat to the entire financial system. The one trillion dollar bailout package, equivalent to the size of India's GDP, is in reality what will keep the markets alive. If nationalisation is now justified and it is the government which actually keeps the markets thriving, I fail to understand how the government was considered ‘bad' in the first place. Why was it ever branded as a remnant of the bygone socialist era?
In the days to come we will see more and more of such bailouts - meaning more companies and firms being nationalised. It is no wonder that Prof Nouriel Roubini of New York University's Stern School of Business once called it the "privatisation of profit and socialisation of losses."
We come down heavily on the police intelligence when the terrorist strikes do not stop, to the point that even the Home Minister becomes a target of ridicule. But when the financial intelligence fails us, and that too with the brightest of the money managers from the best of the business schools in control, we refrain from even pointing a finger. We don't ridicule the chiefs of the corporate world, nor do we mock what the so-called prestigious business schools produce.
The reason why is very simple. We are all implicated in a system of greed, which in one word defines the reason behind the financial meltdown. Let us accept, in other words, that we are all beneficiaries of a corrupt financial system - forcing us to refrain from standing up and calling a spade a spade.
However hard we may try to reform a financial system based on greed, let me assure you that it cannot ever be unclogged and truly regulated. The hypocrisy shrouding the success of the market economy must therefore come to an end. Let the market operate freely and survive on its fundamentals. Let the market learn to manage its own risks, without the government coming to its rescue. Let capitalism sustain itself, without lifesaving intravenous injections from government treasuries. Then let us see for how long the markets will survive.
Until then, we don't need to shed any tears for the estimated 24,000 hungry people who perish with each passing day in an endless wait for their next morsel of food. They have been told bluntly time and again that the governments have no money to feed them. Their legitimate right to food has in reality been snatched by the markets to fill our pockets - a small price that the poor must pay to sustain our dreams.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The Liberation of Tibet as the Web 2.0 Version of the Fall of Apartheid
The Olympic spirit has descended on Beijing, but not exactly in the form China's rulers had planned. The protests for the liberation of Tibet that followed the Olympic torch around the world have arrived in Beijing along with the torch. Hours before the Olympic opening ceremony, a "Tibet Will Be Free" banner was raised just outside the Olympic Stadium.
The protest was preceded and followed by actions in London, Brussels, Berlin, Rome, Amsterdam, Kathmandu, Bangkok, Hong Kong, New Delhi, San Francisco, and Washington, among others.
As the world's attention focuses primarily on the Olympics themselves, and as mainstream media reports give pro-Tibet demonstrations a footnote status, some perspective is gained by listening to the words of South African Archibishop and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu. Speaking in San Francisco on April 8, as the Olympic torch was about to pass through the city like a fugitive on the run, Tutu reminded us that just as apartheid fell after decades of global pressure on the then seemingly invincible South African regime, so too can the liberation of Tibet come through similar persistent global pressure on China.
Video: Desmond Tutu compares anti-apartheid and pro-Tibet movements,
April 8, 2008, San Francisco.
Video Source: Zennie's Zeitgeist
The global human rights movement is beta testing the Web 2.0 version of the fall of apartheid, aiming toward the liberation of Tibet, with coordinated demonstrations in Beijing and around the world, communicated and supported through alternative media channels like Google News, the blogoshere, and websites like FreeTibet.org, sponsored by Students for a Free Tibet.
The foundation for a Tibetan transformational moment, such as the return of the Dalai Lama to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, which would be a tipping point comparable to Nelson Mandela's release from Robbin Prison, is being prepared through the efforts, large and small, of activists around the world.
Nelson Mandela speaks at London Celebration of his 90th birthday
"Free Nelson Mandela" by Special AKA
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The Fierce Urgency of Now
Within the last few weeks, we have seen the nomination by a major political party of the first African--or biracial--American for the presidency of the United States and the legalization of gay marriage in the most populous state in the country.
Each of these, by themselves, but more powerfully together, represent the renewal of the promise in the idea of America. In a sweeping moment, the "we" that includes everyone took a step forward, and the forces that divide us by categories faded a little away. It's a moment only, and there will inevitably be setbacks on the road to come. But, "we" are certainly justified in raising a toast to the moment.
Historian John Hope Franklin on the Obama nomination
California Same-Sex Couples Celebrate Supreme Court Ruling
Today in San Francisco, a "Freedom Torch" will be lit along with other demonstrations and vigils. On Wednesday, the Olympic Torch will pass through the city. The protests follow Olympic Torch demonstrations in London and Paris against China's internal human rights policies and treatment of Tibet.
Protest banner hoisted on Eiffel Tower in Paris, April 7, 2008.
Photo Source: BBC News/AP
"One World. One Dream. Free Tibet" banner on Westminster Bridge, London, April 5, 2008. Photo Source: Students for a Free Tibet
Another World is Being Born
by Joel Federman
November 8, 2006-May 12, 2007
Mother's Day for Peace
A Bit of Wishful Thinking: George Bush Sings "Imagine"
What We Protest For: A Soldier Returns Home
Al Gore on our "Planetary Emergency"
A Call for Cease-Fire in Iraq
Thousands March Against the War in Iraq
World Social Forum Opens in Nairobi, Kenya
Impeach, Nancy, Impeach!
American Deemocracy Affirmedq
February 23, 2005 - September 21, 2005
Ways to Help After Hurricane Katrina
Direct Reports from Camp Casey on the Road
Letters from Fort Lewis by Kevin Benderman
Kevin Benderman: The "Real Deal"
Joel Federman Joel Federman Joel Federman Joel Federman January 28, 2005-February 7, 2005
Media Coverage of
Davos vs. Porto Alegre Shows Elitist Bias
More News from the World Social Forum
100,000 Activists Gather to Build Another World:
fjfjfMajor Media Ignore Story
Links to Another World:
Voices You May Not Have Heard
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,698 groups with 6,506,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer. Membership is free.
In recent months, the threat of proliferation and nuclear terrorism has led to a growing chorus of leaders calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
Global Zero, launched December 9, 2008, will support these leaders in this endeavor by combining high-level policy work with global public outreach to achieve a comprehensive agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide through phased and verified reductions.
The Resist Network: Creating a Documentary Film on Global Change
Resist is a documentary film-in-the-making about economic and social injustice around the world and the people who are challenging it. Director Marc Silver, who has produced documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 in Britain, has enlisted actor Gael Garcia Bernal to interview global change activists, including Noam Chomsky (see below), Naomi Klein and John Berger.
One of the most innovative aspects of the project is that Silver has created an online forum, the Resist Network, that will inform the production itself. Participation in the Resist Network is an opportunity to help shape both the documentary and the movement it describes.
Clip from Resist interview with Noam Chomsky: "The Answer is in You"
of the World's Religions 2009
Authoritarian religion may be on the rise politically around
the world, but so is a more inclusive vision. The theme of the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions, "Make a World of Difference: Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth," underscores the opportunity for religious and spiritual communities and all people of good will to act on environmental concerns and take responsibility for cultivating awareness of our global interconnectedness. Click above for a link to the Parliament
of the World's Religions, and click
here for links to other ongoing efforts of this kind.
Reporters Without BordersandTeam Tibet Reporters Without Borders provides continuing coverage of human rights issues related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Exiled Tibetan athletes and their worldwide supporters are gathering under the banner of Team Tibet to demand real and lasting political change in Tibet. Team Tibet aims to become a global movement and represent Tibetans and their supporters, including professional athletes and public figures. Team Tibet aims to make Olympic history, calling on China to live up to its self- proclaimed support of the Olympic ideal, by effecting positive change in Tibet.
Share The World's Resources
Share The World's Resources (STWR) is an nongovernmental organization (NGO) campaigning for global economic and social justice. STWR Global Focus presents information about why the world economy needs reforming and how a system based on the principle of sharing can prevent 50,000 people dying from poverty every day. The latest news, analysis and videos on these issues can be found on the organization's website.
The Sustainable Living Roadshow
Begun in Spring 2007, the Sustainable Living Roadshow (SLR) is comprised of experienced educators, activists and entertainers who tour university campuses and community events throughout the United States and internationally in a fleet of non-petroleum based renewable fuel vehicles. Theys set up off-the-grid, zero-waste experiential learning villages, featuring workshops, speakers, sustainability exhibits and entertainment which demonstrate practical solutions to social and environmental issues created by our modern industrial society.
Nonviolent Regime Change Computer Game
A Force More Powerful is a computer game that teaches activists and leaders of nonviolent resistance and opposition movements how to fight real-world adversaries—dictators, military occupiers and corrupt rulers, using methods that have succeeded in actual conflicts—not with laser rays or AK47s, but with non-military strategies and nonviolent weapons.
Katrina Information Networkand Rebuild Green The Katrina Information Network and Rebuild Green provide social justice and environmental perspectives on the Katrina relief effort.
site's sole purpose is to try to save lives by helping
stop the genocide in Darfur. It empowers you to take smart,
strategic actions to compel those in power to act through
international petitions or local events. It provides access
to the best, most relevant and most up-to-date information
available. www.savedarfur.org is a similar website.
Peaceful societies are contemporary groups of people who
effectively foster interpersonal harmony and who rarely
permit violence or warfare to interfere with their lives.
The Peaceful Societies website serves to introduce these
societies to students, peace activists, scholars and citizens
who are interested in the conditions that promote peacefulness.
It includes information on the beliefs of these peoples,
the ways they maintain their nonviolence, and the factors
that challenge their lifestyles.
Appeal to Global Conscience Signed
by leaders of the American peace movement, this appeal,
posted on Alternet, speaks for 40 million Americans
who say the United States should immediately withdraw
from the war in Iraq.
Know I Was) UnAmerican This is a powerful song
and video by musician Ian Rhett, expressing pretty much
everything that topia.net is all about. A cross between
John Lennon's "Imagine" and one of Bob Dylan's
early protest songs.
Global Rich List Position
This website provides a calculator that allows you to
determine your annual income relative to the rest of the
world. By entering your annual income, and clicking on
the calculator, it gives you the following read-out, with
specific dollar figures where the xxx's are: "You
are in the top xx% richest people in the world. There
are x,xxx,xxx,xxx people poorer than you. How do you feel
about that? A bit richer we hope. Please consider donating
just a small amount to help some of the poorest people
in the world."
Idealist.org and Opportunitynocs.org
Want to make a career of changing the world? Idealist.org
and Opportunitynocs.org provide thousands of prosocial job
listings, mostly in nonprofit organizations, according to
city/state/country and job type.
The Better World Handbook is a guide for the average person
wanting to make a positive difference in the world. The
book provides hundreds of examples of practical, effective
actions you can take to make a positive difference in the
world. These actions are aimed at realizing the following
values: Economic Fairness; Comprehensive Peace; Ecological
Sustainability; Deep Democracy; Social Justice; Culture
of Simplicity; and Revitalized Community.