Monday, December 7, 2009

On a Day that Strength Overshadows Hate

What I Will
Suheir Hammad

I will not
dance to your war
drum. I will
not lend my soul nor
my bones to your war
drum. I will
not dance to your
beating. I know that beat.
It is lifeless. I know
intimately that skin
you are hitting. It
was alive once
hunted stolen
stretched. I will
not dance to your drummed
up war. I will not pop
spin break for you. I
will not hate for you or
even hate you. I will
not kill for you. Especially
I will not die
for you. I will not mourn
the dead with murder nor
suicide. I will not side
with you nor dance to bombs
because everyone else is
dancing. Everyone can be
wrong. Life is a right not
collateral or casual. I
will not forget where
I come from. I
will craft my own drum. Gather my beloved
near and our chanting
will be dancing. Our
humming will be drumming. I
will not be played. I
will not lend my name
nor my rhythm to your
beat. I will dance
and resist and dance and
persist and dance. This heartbeat is louder than
death. Your war drum ain't
louder than this breath.
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Top Ten Brands to Boycott this Christmas

While there are many Israeli and multinational companies that benefit from apartheid, we put together this list to highlight ten specific companies to target.

Many of these produce goods in such a way that directly harms Palestinians — exploiting labor, developing technology for military operations, or supplying equipment for illegal settlements. Many are also the targets of boycotts for other reasons, like harming the environment and labor violations.

Remember, it’s also important to let these companies — and the stores that sell them — know that we will not support them as long as they support Israeli apartheid!


This brand’s cosmetics are produced using salt, minerals, and mud from the Dead Sea — natural resources that are excavated from the occupied West Bank. The products themselves are manufactured in the illegal Israeli settlement Mitzpe Shalem. AHAVA is the target of CODEPINK’s “Stolen Beauty” campaign.

2. Delta Galil Industries

Israel’s largest textiles manufacturer provides clothing and underwear for such popular brands as Gap, J-Crew, J.C. Penny, Calvin Klein, Playtex, Victoria’s Secret (see #10) and many others. Its founder and chairman Dov Lautman is a close associate of former Israeli President Ehud Barak. It has also been condemned by Sweatshop Watch for its exploitation of labor in other countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey.

3. Motorola

While many of us know this brand for its stylish cellphones, did you know that it also develops and manufactures bomb fuses and missile guidance systems? Motorola components are also used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) and in communications and surveillance systems used in settlements, checkpoints, and along the 490 mile apartheid wall. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has launched the “Hang Up on Motorola” campaign.

4. L’Oreal / The Body Shop

This cosmetics and perfume company is known for its investments and manufacturing activities in Israel, including production in Migdal Haemek, the “Silicon Valley” of Israel built on the land of Palestinian village Al-Mujaydil, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948. In 1998, a representative of L’Oreal was given the Jubilee Award by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for strengthening the Israeli economy.

5. Dorot Garlic and Herbs

These frozen herbs that are sold at Trader Joe’s are shipped halfway around the world when they could easily be purchased locally. Trader Joe’s also sells Israeli Cous Cous and Pastures of Eden feta cheese that are made in Israel. QUIT, South Bay Mobilization, and other groups have targeted Trader Joe’s with a “Don’t Buy into Apartheid” campaign.

6. Estee Lauder

This company’s chairman Ronald Lauder is also the chairman of the Jewish National Fund, a quasi-governmental organization that was established in 1901 to acquire Palestinian land and is connected to the continued building of illegal settlements. Estee Lauder’s popular brands include Clinique, MAC, Origins, Bumble & Bumble, Aveda, fragrance lines for top designers, and many others. They have been the target of QUIT’s “Estee Slaughter Killer Products” campaign.

7. Intel

This technology company that manufactures computer processors and other hardware components employs thousands of Israelis and has exports from Israel totaling over $1 billion per year. They are one of Israel’s oldest foreign supporters, having established their first development center outside of the US in 1974 in Haifa. Al-Awda (the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition) has urged action against Intel for building a facility on the land of former village Iraq Al Manshiya, which was cleansed in 1949.

8. Sabra

This brand of hummus, baba ghanoush and other foods is co-owned by Israel’s second-largest food company The Strauss Group and Pepsico. On the “Corporate Responsibility” section of its website, The Strauss Group boasts of its relationship to the Israeli Army, offering food products and political support.

9. Sara Lee

Sara Lee holds a 30% stake in Delta Galil (see #2) and is the world’s largest clothing manufacturer, which owns or is affiliated with such brands as Hanes, Playtex, Champion, Leggs, Sara Lee Bakery, Ball Park hotdogs, Wonderbra, and many others. Similar to L’Oreal (see #4), a representative of Sara Lee received the Jubilee Award from Netanyahu for its commitment to business with Israel.

10. Victoria’s Secret

Most of Victoria’s Secret’s bras are produced by Delta Galil (see #2), and much of the cotton is also grown in Israel on confiscated Palestinian land. Victoria’s Secret has also been the target of labor rights’ groups for sourcing products from companies with labor violations, and by environmental groups for their unsustainable use of paper in producing their catalogues. That’s not sexy!

Posted by Right Of Return Coalition on Thu, 12/03/2009 - 13:05
USCBI (U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel)
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Part 1: Problems with the Two-state Solution of Palestine and Israel

Political rhetoric is constantly used by politicians, diplomats and those that maintain neutrality in regards to Israel's occupation of Palestine. People opposed to the occupation give the two-state solution, a separate Palestinian state and a separate Jewish state, as the only plausible answer to this +60 year problem. However, when you break down this solution, it is really not plausible at all when looking at it through the lenses of justice and equality. Omar Barghouti, educator, activist and scholar, has made it even clearer to me that a two-state solution may be a solution of ease and practicality but is also one that perpetuates the injustice and inequality that Palestinians face today. A two-state solutions proposes two states, one for Palestinians and one for the Jewish population. I say Jewish and not Israeli because according to Israel, there is no Israeli nationality, the only nationality that exists is the Jewish nationality. The borders of Palestine would be the borders that were placed upon Palestinians in 1949 before Israel violated international law in 1967 and thereafter- Palestine would consist of West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem (future capital). There are a few key problems with this "solution":

1. The size of land relative to the population of Palestinians is disproportionate even using the international-consensus borders of 1949.
-- West Bank: 2,178 square miles; 1,102 people per square mile
-- Gaza: 139 square miles; 10,791 people per square mile
-- Israel: 8,019 square miles; 885 people per square mile

As the numbers show, land distribution relative to the size of the population is grossly disproportional.

2. Palestinians right to return, which refers to the Palestinians in the diaspora right to return back to their homeland, within the confines of the 1949 will only exacerbate the land and population issues mentioned in #1. Presently, there are over 6 million Palestinians in exile that cannot return to their homeland.

3. Adhering to the 1949 borders poses another problem in regards to geography because of the Jewish settlements in Gaza and East Jerusalem (again, using the word Jewish due to Israel's idea of its national identity being Jewish, not due to Antisemitism). The Jewish settlements that have been built and are still being built (note: violation of international law) have been built strategically, so that they divide Palestinian villages and towns from one another. Another reason they have been built in such a way is to make it so that when it comes time during a "peace process" to figure out the exact borders of Palestine and Israel, it will be impossible to make a concrete Palestinian state. If the settlements maintain their presence in a two-state solution, Palestinians would have to go through Israel in order to reach another Palestinian town/village. This is just a twist to the checkpoints that Palestinians have to go through today.

Obviously, it is much easier to spew critiques, rather than pose a solution. The next blog piece will discuss the one-state solution and the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) which Omar Barghouti founded in order to achieve the one-state goal.
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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gay Marriage Spreading to Maine and New Hampshire (fingers crossed)

Two states, Maine and New Hampshire, are in the process of legalizing gay marriage. The state Senate in Maine has already voted for its legalization and now it's going to the House where the bill is likely to pass. New Hampshire's Senate has also passed a bill to legalize gay marriage and now it's off to the House, where a similar bill had previously been approved. Both states' governors, John Baldacci (Maine-D) and John Lynch (New Hampshire-D), do not support gay marriage; however, both have not stated that they will veto the bill. Read more!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Condi Rice Impersonating Nixon?

Ms. Condi Rice was at Stanford University when a student asked her about waterboarding and whether or not it's torture. Her answer sounds awfully similar to Nixon's.

"The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture."

So, in essence, just because the President says it's ok, we must believe it? As an intelligent human being, aren't we suppose to hold opinions and question statements regardless of what authority said it?

"The United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture, and so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."

Here are a few reasons to why Condi Rice said that:

A.) She doesn't understand the role of the President.
B.) She mistook our Democracy for a dictatorship.
C.) She thought it would be a good time to impersonate Mr. Nixon ("When the President does it, that means it is not illegal").

Let's hope it's C and she just has a really poor sense of comedic timing.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Afghan Women Rise in Protest to Recent Taliban-like Law

(Source: The New York Times, April 16, 2009, Front Page and A13 for information and image)

Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, April 15, 2009:

While Americans rushed to hand in their tax returns, several hundred Afghan women walked two miles to Parliament to submit a petition to repeal a law that oppresses Shi'ite women's rights.

The law, signed by both houses of Parliament and President Hamid Karzai, is under attack for three specific provisions:

1. Married Shi'ite women cannot refuse her husband's sexual advances;
2. A husband's permission is required before a woman is allowed to work or go to school;
3. A woman cannot refuse to "dress up" or "make herself up" if her husband desires it.

President Karzai has been attacked by many Western groups for his part in the passage of the law, though he attempted to mitigate the impact of the bill by giving it to the justice minister to "look over" and declared that since the law has not technically been published in the government's official register, all women's rights (which are supposedly protected in the Afghan Consitution) will be upheld.

The law is reminiscent of the Taliban and was drafted by Ayatollah Asif Mohseni, the country's most powerful Shi'ite cleric, among other scholars (all of whom are men). Some speculate that President Karzai signed the law because he is up for re-election this year and is trying to garner the support of the Shi'ite clerics.

The women's protest started at the madrasa, School of the Last Prophet, run by Ayatollah Asif Mohseni where they declared that they wished to protect their rights. The women were immediately met by a slew of angry (mostly male) students from the madrasa, who yelled obscenities and attempted to drive the women away. The women had police escorts as they delivered their petition to Parliament.

Meanwhile, some women in Kabul chanted in support of the law.

This event is a good reminder to me to be vigilant of global human rights issues and seek to support those who are not favored by their governments, despite apparent constitutional safeguards.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Would Europe Look Good with An Eye Patch?

Somalian Pirates
(Courtesy of Gallo/Getty)

Pirates aren't just in Disney films anymore- they are taking over our news and rightfully so. However, there's a side of these eye-patch wearing folks that isn't quite being covered- Europe degrading Somalia's resources. European countries have been dumping nuclear waste and stripping its seas of inhabitants for years and now, these hostages are paying the price. In essence, these countries have stole Somalia of the following: its seas' and people's healths, as well as, its fishermen's livelihoods. Wouldn't it then be proper to call these countries "pirates" too?

In 1991, when Somalia's government fell to pieces due to civil war, European countries were just waiting for the regulation of its waters to fall as well. With millions of its denizens at or near starvation, these well-to-do countries made it even harder for Somalia's people to survive. The nuclear waste that was dumped in Somalia's seas diminished the health of the coastal population. But the ill-health of its people meant little in dollar terms to European firms. Nick Nuttall, the UN Environmental Program spokesperson, expressed that "European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne."

The Red Jolly (really?)- A ship that dumped toxic waste.
(Image from

However, after the tsunami hit in 2004, the polluted waters were able to reach greater land and people. More people got sick due to radiation and more than 300 people died. Nuttall discussed the different types of waste found on shore after the tsunami hit: "There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it." The UN envoy to Somalia, Ould-Abdallah, said that these toxins that were ravaging the health of the Somalians could be traced back to European factories. Unfortunately, he also said that these institutions were doing nothing to prevent or compensate Somalia for their actions. To top it off, other European ships were stealing $3 million worth of seafood every year from Somalia.

These pirates have taken on the unofficial role as regulators of Somalia's seas and a recent study in Somalia shows that 70% of its citizen's support them. Granted, the violence that these Somalian pirates are committing cannot be condoned but there has been 18 years (more or less) of provocation on Europe's part.

It has often been a trend to identify countries that are devastating the wellbeing of other countries as business-as-usual or capitalism. But, when such actions are done on a smaller scale, when individuals and not countries are the ones at fault, names such as "pirates", "terrorists", and "evil-doers" are used. This logic does not make any sense whatsoever. Something such as a government or a company that has the power and uses that power to wreak greater havoc on a larger population (relative to an individual) should be held wholly accountable. The poverty, ill-health and death of individuals shouldn't be thought of as business-as-usual.
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Monday, April 13, 2009

Mississippi: Lawsuit Against Police Assault & Arrest of Black Schoolchildren

(Image thanks to mikeely.wordpress)

The ACLU filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the DeSoto County school officials and the South Haven Mississippi Police for assaulting, arresting and racially targeting school children that were riding on a school bus. The police had gotten involved after three middle school children, 2 black and 1 white student, got into an argument. When the 2 police officers arrived, they arrested 6 students and physically harassed 1 girl, all of whom were black. They also went way above the call of duty by threatening the 30 schoolchildren on the bus by saying: "Wait until you get a bullet between the eye." All of this was caught on tape. Want more specifics? Click on Read More.

This event took place August 12th, 2008, when the bus monitor, Mary Robbins, and driver, Belinda Heyman, thought it necessary to call the police over a verbal argument between 3 students. When the two police officers, Tomas Aguilar (Police Sergeant) and Lee Holiday, arrived they began their physical and verbal assault against the students. Holiday arrested two of the three students responsible for the argument, both of whom were black and said to one of the girls arrested that he was going to take her "little ass down to juvenile hall." The other student, who was white, was not arrested or even reprimanded by the school.

Police Sergeant Aguilar boarded the bus after Holiday had left and started saying statements such as, "You think this is funny?" and "Who wants to try me?" These remarks made some of the students smile and laugh, probably out of nervousness or because such an event was foreign to them, but that apparently was unacceptable to Aguilar who then arrested 3 more students, again who were black. Soonafter, I assume just for shits and giggles, he decided to arrest another girl, black as well, who had done absolutely nothing against the law. When she said she was going to call her mom, he turned up the crazy. He grabbed her neck, pushed her in an empty seat and used his weight to keep her down. He then proceeded to scream in her face saying, "You don't talk to me like that. You don't talk to me like that. Do you understand?"

Aguilar wasn't done though. After arresting the girl, he put his hand on his gun and told the remaining students that "Y'all think this is funny? Y'all think this is funny? Wait until you get a bullet between the eyes."

All of what happened was completely unnecessary and nonsensical. These were middle school students who got into an argument; police force wasn't needed in the first place. These protect-and-serve officers verbally and physically harassed schoolchildren and wholly discriminated against black students. I'm glad that the ACLU has filed a lawsuit; however, I have little faith that these police officers are going to get a little more than a slap on the wrist.

(Courtesy of

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vermont on the Rainbow Express!

The Vermont legislature legalized gay marriage today! I really cannot comprehend the wonderfulness that is this month! It is now the fourth state to have same-sex marriage be legal AND it is the FIRST to do so through legislative means rather than through the court. But there's a cherry to put on this rainbow-sprinkled cake: the city of Washington, D.C. is now going to recognize gay marriage from different states. This is a historic week for gay rights and more broadly, civil rights.

Vermont really could have gone either way on this issue. The bill had passed in the Vermont House but the governor, Jim Douglas (R), vetoed it. It could have died but it was brought back to life with the bare minimum needed to override his (unjust) veto: 100 to 49. And because of this, same-sex couples can get legally married in September!

Of course, the opponents of gay marriage are livid and have expressed their plans to go on a public relations frenzy. Iowa and much of the Northeast, including New Hampshire, which will be dealing with the issue of gay marriage soon, are on their list. They have bought $1.5 million of TV airtime already.

Cue emotional music and overly dramatic moms.

But today isn't the day to talk about these narrow-minded folks, it's a day for people to see the humanity in our government. Surprise Surprise!
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Iowa: Gay Marriage Legalized!


Iowa's Supreme court unanimously voted to legalize gay marriage, striking down the decade long state ban against it! It's the third state in the country to legalize it (Massachusetts and Connecticut being the other two) and the first that is a rural state. This law will come into affect April 24th, which is when same-sex couples can get their marriage licenses. This decision, however, will not affect churches' decisions to perform religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Justice Mark S. Cady expressed the reasons behind the ruling: "We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification."

In 1998, one of Iowa's lower courts ruled that the state law defining marriage as being only between a man and women violates Iowa's constitutional right of equal protection. However, later in 2005, the Polk County Recorder, Timothy J. Brien, denied six same-sex couples the right to marry. These couples then filed a lawsuit that year against the Polk Country recorder. Again, in 2007, the Iowa District Court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional. Soon after, the county appealed its ruling. The county's argument was that because gay couples cannot procreate, they can be treated differently.

Really? That's the best they could come up with? Some women cannot reproduce and some men do not have enough sperm to impregnate women, would that then mean that they wouldn't be afforded the same rights as those who can? Of course not. All people who cannot reproduce don't have a choice- their bodies just can't perform that function. And because homosexuality is not a choice, gays and lesbians too do not have a choice on their abilities to reproduce. Their argument obviously was ridiculous and thankfully, the Iowa Supreme Court agreed.

Polk County is not going to seek a review and so anti gay marriage folks only have one other option: constitutional amendment. Liberty Counsel (ironic name) has already stated that it will advance a referendum to amend Iowa's constitution so that it will prohibit gay marriage. However, this action will take two years to take place.

Due to this victory, Lambda Legal, which is the law firm that filed the law suit against Iowa's gay marriage ban in 2005, stated "Justices look at opinions from other states. There's a significant likelihood that [the decision] will influence other states, like California. This is WONDERFUL news because there are a few states that are weighing gay marriage bills now: Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Maine. Furthermore, the California Supreme Court has to rule for or against gay marriage by June. Hopefully, Iowa's decision should act as another reminder to all those states that are dealing with the issue of gay marriage of how discriminatory and unjust the ban is.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Urgent: Save HIV/AIDS Healthcare Program TODAY!

Save Millions... Save Lives... Save Positive Healthcare 

California's governator, Mr. Schwarzennegar, is going to cut Positive Healthcare, which is a HIV/AIDS program that serves the underserved, by 18% on March 31st (today!). Worse of all, he is doing this without explanation. Positive Healthcare has been a part of California's social programs for over 15 years and has saved the state more than $7.5 million, not to mention the innumerable lives it has saved. This action does not make any sense because it is a program that actually saves the state money. The Department of Health says that it is going to have an enhanced version of this program. This enhancement just means that Positive Healthcare would need to pay for expensive medications.

So here's the equation:
California's Money is going to be lost (and we're already in massive debt)
+ Lives are going to be lost
+ Pharmaceutical companies are going to profit?
= A Shitastic Enhancement.

Tell Schwarzennegar to stop bullying Positive Healthcare and the disadvantaged.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

FLOW- a Film about Water.

(Image Courtesy of Flow)
We're in a drought and to many of us, that reality is hard to grasp. Ever since we were kids, we have thought that water is free and infinite. We used and abused it and most importantly, never thought twice. "Flow" tells us that everything we thought as children concerning the flow of water has been a lie. It uses scientists to provide evidence and then shows us the reality...the humanity of water. It shows the corrupt water industry, the thirst-stricken children of developing countries and the nasty toxins that are infiltrating our pipelines. And with all this learning, it still manages to be utterly captivating. Clink on the link to learn more about Flow. Click on "Read More" if you want to read some of the facts (list form) that I found astonishing.

*More than two million people die per year due to water borne diseases. The majority are children under the age of 5.

Pesticides and Other Toxins in Our Water
* Increased Birth defects in agriculture-rich areas (pesticides from agro seep into ground water)
* A Decline in fertility in European areas where pesticides are in heavy use.
* In Tasmania, cancer rates have shot up 200% after it increased its pesticide use.
* In Texas, toxicologists found high levels of Prozac in tissues of every fish they sampled (urban runoff- our polluted water and soil travel and pollute the oceans)
* The Arctic: Industrial toxins travel in water and have been found in seals, whales, polar bears, fish and in the breast milk of Inuit mothers.
* Creation of dams on a river= Rapid change in ecosystem. A river has organic materials that feed the living creatures that reside in and along the river; it also feeds the oceans. When a dam is created-->  organic matter gets captured behind the dam--> it rots--> creates methane gas, a green house gas.
-- In the 20th century, 10s of millions of people have been displaced by dams.
* Research shows the effects of atrazine, a pesticide made by a Swiss company: atrazine "chemically castrated" frogs. This means that male frogs would become more female- develop ovaries and decrease sperm count- after exposure to the pesticide.

The Anatomy of a Demasculinzed Frog
(Picture Courtesy of Berkeley)
--> Atrazine is the most used pesticide in the U.S. and it's the #1 found contaminant in our drinking, ground, and surface water.
--> It has been linked with prostate cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
--> All of the European Union has banned atrazine, including Switzerland, where the pesticide is made.

Privatization of Water
* Europe is beginning to privatize water. 3 of the largest water companies (all fortune 500 and started by bankers) are Thames Ater, Vivendi and Suez. All 3 are forcing developing countries to give them their water supplies and then charging the citizens of those countries to pay for their own water.
* 1999 Cochabamba, Bolivia: Government privatized water, which led to a water war. 2 years earlier, The World Bank gave Cochabamba and El Alto, Bolivia an ultimatum- if they don't privatize water, the World Bank would cut off their water development loans. However, 10 years after this threat, Bolivia returned water back to its people.
* Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa: Invensys Metering System. Each person pays for a card and (s)he uses this card to get water. However, this is a poor region, so most people can't pay for water--> they go to the river (unsanitary; waterborne diseases)--> people get sick--> poor health care system--> death rises.
* New Delhi, India: Suez is blocking much of the flow of the Ganges river- more then 600 billion liters- and will sell that water back to Indians at 10xs the price they're paying now.
* Michigan, U.S.: Nestle has over 70 brands of bottled water and it is using Michigan's water resources- 450 gallons/min- and not paying a cent for what it consumes. Its profits are upwards of $1.8 million/ day. Nestle has gotten over $10 million in tax abatements over the span of 10 years.
* U.S.: Less than one person in the FDA is regulating the water industry. Bottled industry is severely less regulated than tap water.
--> National Resources Defense Council tested over 100 brands of bottled water in the U.S. Outcome: Bottled water is not better, safer or purer than tap water. 1/3 of these brands had toxins like arsenic, organic harmful chemicals and other harmful bacteria invisibly poisoning the water. Some of the bottled water companies with pictures of mountains came from city tap, while others with glaciers on them came from ground water in Florida.
--> In 2007, 16 million gallons of oil were used to make water bottles.
--> U.N. estimated that it will cost an additional $30 billion/year to provide safe, clean drinking water to the entire planet. Last year alone the U.S. spent 3xs that on bottled water.

A Sea of Bottled Water
(Image Provided by
*Ashok Gadgil, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found that ultra violet rays kill pathogens in water, and with this information he developed clean affordable water.
-->Bomminampadu, India: UV ray Water Purification Center. The price at which local people buy the water pays the wages of the locals who run the center = self-sustaining. The price for 10 gallons of safe drinking water per day everyday for a year= $2 U.S. (affordable!) 300,000 people benefit from this technology right now.
* Rainwater Harvesting: catches rainfall on rooftops and a pipe guides it to a storage unit that stores the water, so that when there are dry periods water can be consumed- Super effective.
*Playpumps: there's a circular device that kids ride on and it uses their kinetic force to pump water. 900 playpumps bring 2,250,000 people water in Africa.

Playpumps Providing Smiles and Water
(Picture thanks to

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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Truth.

Two of Suheir Hammad's performances that reference the aftermath of 9/11.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

CIA- Going Beyond "Top Secret"

(Art by Julia Nissen)

On March 6th, 2009 the CIA finally admitted that it destroyed 92 videotapes of interrogation, 12 of them which showed CIA officials' use of harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding back in 2005. CIA's unlawful act occurred after the ACLU filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in 2003 and 2004.

After suspicions of CIA's conduction of torture arose, the ACLU filed FIOA requests on October 2003 and May 2004, so to view the videotapes and manuscripts concerning CIA's interrogation techniques. However, the CIA failed to comply to the ACLU, as well as, the 9/11 Commission's requests. Thereafter, the United States District Court for Southern New York stepped in and ruled that the CIA must produce all materials that are related to interrogation. Again, the CIA decided it was above the law and didn't produce the materials.

(Image from

To retaliate against CIA's perpetual disregard for the law, on December 12th, 2007 the ACLU filed a motion to hold the CIA in contempt. Jameel Jaffar, the Director of ACLU's National Security Project stated, "By destroying these tapes, the CIA violated the statute as well as an order of the court. In the circumstances, it would be entirely appropriate for the court to hold the agency in contempt."

Presently, the motion is still pending. However, if it goes through, the CIA will be forced to hand over all interrogation-related materials and give written descriptions of the tapes that have been destroyed.

All bodies of government need to be held accountable for the performance of illegal and/or abusive activities. If they are not, we will surely see a gradual descent to some form of tyrannical rule. I know this sounds like an exaggeration but if you break it down, it really isn't. Most people will act illegally if they know that this act will give them greater power (in whatever sense) and if they know they can get away with it. If we don't hold them accountable now, what will stop them from further abusing our legal system and even our own rights?
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Obama Fights for Women's Rights

As Bush's days dwindled, he, like most president's in the past, altered a slew of policies prior to relinquishing his control. One of these dealt with women's reproductive rights. As expected, President Obama is attempting to rescind this unjust legislation and you can add strength to his voice with your own.

(Image Courtesy of Amy King's Alias)
I don't understand what type of world the Bush administration and his followers believe we live in. Yes, abortions are not ideal and yes, people should be sexually responsible but people are just people. People make mistakes- Bush should be very familiar with this concept. In such cases, should motherhood be forced upon women especially when they are not ready? Statistically, children brought up in single-parent homes are financially less well off than children who are not. Granted there are exceptions but these exceptions are rare. Forcing this would increase the population of poorly educated individuals and overall poverty. Moreover, if women don't have reproductive rights, they will resort to unsafe abortion practices, which will increase ill health and death amongst women.

(Image Thanks to Shine_So_Cold on

And sometimes, people don't make mistakes and it is through violence that unfortunate events are thrusted upon them. In circumstances of rape, what will the government say about abortion or even, birth control? It could be said that there can be exceptions to the law, so that in instances of rape, abortion is permitted. But, statistically, many victims of rape fail to report, so what then? And, what if the victim does report but the judge/jury feels that the case lacks evidence and thus, the woman cannot be granted an abortion or birth control. There are an infinite amount of scenarios and it would be near impossible to create a policy that would keep the rights of women intact.

People will not start behaving the way they should just because a law is put into effect. People are still going to have sex. Sometimes the condom will break or in the heat of things, it may be forgotten, or even, it may be present but mr. sperm was just sneaky. Rape will still, unfortunately, be a common occurrence. Bush's ban against women's reproductive rights will not miraculosly change all of this and we must not be naive enough to think so.

Obama's proposal to rescind Bush's backward thinking has a 30 day comment period, so it's important that you voice your opinion!
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Our rights are hanging by a thread...

Today is the hearing for the challenge against Prop 8.

Watch the hearing live! Read more!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mr. Clean... Coal.

Missed me? Sorry for the disappearance again- I am playing catch up with life. Here's an amusing little something from the Coen brothers ("The Big Lebowski", "No Country for Old Men"). Thanks to ThisIsReality for the video! And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Dark Sides of Tobacco- The Other Dark Sides.

(Image thanks to

I have never been a big fan of cigarettes. To be more accurate, I loathe them. And it isn't because of the health implications because everyone and their moms know that cigarettes are bad for one's health. No, it is because these big corporations have manipulated society into thinking that 1. they aren't really bad for you (back when it was fresh) 2. if you smoke, you will magically transform into the coolest kid in the world. And after they spoon-feed you this bullshit, they rape you of your money and reap the rewards. Essentially, we are paying these corps to ruin our health, our environment and the developing world.

Pesticides- they're everywhere. They're in our food, water, gardens and apparently in cigarettes. However, while the first three are regulated by government agencies, cigarettes largely go without oversight and regulation. To top this off, the pesticides that are used are some of the most toxic- they can cause birth defects, acute poisoning and damage to the nervous system. These pesticides also do severe damage to ecosystems- they decrease algae and fungi, endanger mammals, and harm some plants. And because we need space to cultivate these wonders of poison, deforestation occurs.

Another way that tobacco abuses our environment is when we smoke it. The smoke released from cigarettes contain the greenhouse gases CO2 and methane, which add about 2.6 billion kg of CO2 per year and 5.6 billion kg of methane gas per year (worldwide). Thus, with every moment that passes as you nurse your cigarette is every moment that passes that our environment is in a worse state than before.

As the developed worlds of the U.S. and Europe have decreased their consumption of cigarettes, tobacco companies have looked to the developing world with eyes of gold. Advertisements directed at both adults and children are on display luring them into submission. In Africa, for example, smoking has increased 4.3% per year, according to the World Health Organization. In countries that have such a high rate of poverty and such poor health care institutions, people cannot afford to inflict further harm to themselves.

Many developing countries realized this dilemma and in November 2008, 150 countries came to a solution: Fuck tobacco companies. What this means is threefold:
1. The government and tobacco companies will sever their ties.
2. Public smoking will be outlawed (second hand smoke kills, remember?)
3. Advertisements, especially ones that are directed towards children, will be banned.

So why do you need cigarettes? Don't you know that you're already the coolest kid in the world.

Read more!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Your Name can Lead to Marriage Equality.

Last week it was announced that the California Supreme Court will hear the case against Prop 8. It is now our turn to add our name onto a list of many to show our support of gay marriage. By adding your name, it will strengthen the argument that will be presented to the CA Supreme Court on March 5th against the unjust passage of Prop 8.

Sign your name... Support Gay Marriage... Support Equality! Read more!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Oslo Buses are going to the Shitter.

(Thanks to Star-Oslo Lokaltrafikk)
When I think about poop, it doesn't cross my mind that my poop is contributing to global warming. But my poop along with all the poops in the world are one of the sources of methane gas, a greenhouse gas, which happens to be 20 times worse in trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2. Oslo, Norway has found a funny but clever solution to its release of methane and CO2- poo-powered buses!

Oslo came to this decision when it saw that private and public transportation had increased CO2 emissions by 10% since 2000. And obviously, the most conventional solution to decrease this was to use poop (in actuality poop and other excrement that land in sewers) to solve this problem.

Prior to this ingenious idea, sewage plants were releasing the majority of their methane into the atmosphere. Now, instead of having it flared off, Oslo is going to trap the methane and turn it into Biomethane- a fuel that will energize around 200 of Oslo's buses. The way it works is that microorganisms break down materials found in sewers- poop, food, leaves, etc.- and then transforms our leftovers into gas. So not only does this technology make use of our leftovers and the methane that would have been released, it also decreases CO2 emissions by 44 tonnes per bus per year! Furthermore, excluding the initial start up costs, which aren't hefty because the engines of the buses only need to be slightly tweaked, Oslo will be saving .40 Euro/liter.

The U.S. needs to implement this strategy in its efforts to combat global warming. I would be more than enthused to lend my poop to the the greater good. Wouldn't you?
Read more!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Potential Prop H8 Reversal!

(Thanks to

Good evening sunshines,

It was just announced today that the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments presented by organizations that challenge Prop 8. These hearings will be held on March 5th, 2009. In May 2008, the California Supreme Court expressed that the banning of gay marriage went against the equal protection clause in the California Constitution, which stated that all people should be treated equally under the law. However, after the passage of Prop 8 (passed only by 52%), a minority's rights were taken away by the will of the majority.

90 days after the hearing, the California Supreme Court will issue an opinion.

Click on the link if you want to learn more about the case, Strauss et al. v. Horton et al.
(It is 64 pages of goodness!)

Have a beautiful one,

Read more!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama's First Week

Let's go down memory lane and capture the highlights from Obama's first week:

Jan. 21st, 2009 (Day 1):

(Courtesy of the Guardian)

*120 day suspension of military commissions in Guantanamo Bay. This means that all pending cases are now suspended, which is amazing because the way in which military commissions were trying these cases were unethical and nontransparent. 120 days will give the new executive office sufficient time to review the cases up for trial (Yay!).
*Administration aides cannot leave their position as aides and then lobby for an issue to an executive agency for the full duration of Obama's presidency. Prior to this, an aide was able to leave his/her position and start lobbying an executive agency after a year (Yay!).

*Lobbyists who take up position within executive agencies cannot participate in an issue that they lobbied for until 2 years have passed (Yay!).

*3 rules of transparency (Yay!):
-- 1. Only the current president is allowed to block the release of documents, rather than what Bush had done before which was allow the current and past presidents to block documents.
-- 2. Reinvigorated Freedom of Information Act. Previously, documents that were requested for release were delayed from being released- this was actually encouraged by former Att. General John Ashcroft.
--3. Memo to Executive Branch officials: Be more open and transparent.

*Pay freezes for top white house officials who make $100,000 or more (Yay!) .

Jan 22nd, 2009 (Day 2):

(Thanks to

*Ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay within a year (Yay!).

* The U.S. will no longer torture and now, under this administration, water-boarding will be defined as torture (Yay!).

* Elected George Mitchell as special envoy in the Middle East. George Mitchell was the Senate Majority Leader for 16 years, helped negotiate the Northern Ireland peace process and in 2000, led American investigation to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict (conclusion: Israel needs to stop settlements in Palestinian territory and Palestine needs to establish a rule of law).

* Elected Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Holbrooke was a former U.S. Ambassador in the U.N., brokered the Dayton Peace Accords (peace agreement between warring factions in Bosnia) and was the Peace Corps' director in Morocco. He also was a senior advisor at Lehman Brothers on Wall St. from 1981-1993.

Jan 23rd, 2009 (Day 3):

(Thank you

* Lifts the abortion "gag rule", which barred family clinics in international countries from receiving U.S. aide if they performed abortions or even referred, educated or counseled patients about abortions (Yay!).

Damages from the air strikes in Pakistan
(Courtesy of AFP: Mahmud Hams)

* Obama continues Bush's poor judgment in regards to Pakistan- the air strikes in Pakistan. Since Obama's continuation, which happened on the 23rd and has persisted, 23 have been killed 3 of which have been children. These air strikes began last summer. Pakistani government states that it was not notified that these air strikes were going to continue under the new administration. Pakistani citizens, once hopeful about the new president, are now outraged (Boo!).
My 2 cents: Obama's continuing the air strikes and the administration says its to target only Al Qaeda. And yes, they have killed 8 Al Qaeda militants of the 20 suspected but doesn't the new administration think that if it acts with such hostility against a region (Pakistan), its citizens are going to be outraged and that emotion might compel some to join anti-American groups like Al Qaeda.

* Nominated William Lynn as Deputy Secretary of Defense. Lynn lobbied the government on behalf of Raytheon, a major defense contractor for the U.S. who supplies Bunker Buster bombs and missiles. This nomination has been criticized for it has been expressed that Raytheon and thus, Lynn greatly benefited from the Iraq war due to it being a chief supplier of military weapons (Boo!).

Jan 24th, 2009 (Day 4):

* Nothing really spectacular. Speeches about foreign diplomacy, the actions needed to stimulate our receding economy and increasing financial regulations were given.

Jan 25th, 2009 (Day 5):

*Ehhh... maybe he needed a break from all the work? I would've been pooped by day 1 hour 2. If anyone knows what Obama did, if anything, that was of great importance, let me know!

Jan 26th, 2009 (Day 6):

* The U.S. will have direct diplomacy with Iran, which has not occurred since 1977 (Yay!).

Al Aribiya Interview
(Courtesy of Munashik on

* Obama's first formal interview as President was given to an Arab news station, Al Aribiya. No president has ever given an interview to an Arab news station as his first formal interview. Highlights from the interview (Overall Yay!):
--"American's are not your enemies"
-- Stating that some of his family members are Muslims and he has lived in Muslim countries.
-- In regards to the Gaza Attacks and U.S.' role, he stated that the U.S. has a tendency to command/dictate what needs to be done prior to completely understanding the facts from all sides.
-- Consistently separated terrorist groups like Al Queda and Islam.
-- Obviously, strongly reaffirmed the U.S. and Israel's partnership (Boo!).
My 2 cents: Such a great strategic move in showing the Muslim world and the international community that there has been a shift in how America will interact with communities abroad. This interview translates into respect in the eyes of many Muslims around the world, a characteristic that was lacking under the former administration. However, these words, even though well spoken and courageous, will not trump actions taken by this administration. Muslim countries and its people will await the outcomes of the attacks on Gaza, the war in Iraq and the air strikes in Pakistan.

Jan 27th, 2009 (Day 7):

(Thanks Solar Kismet)

* Signed an executive order to increases fuel-efficiency standards of all cars and trucks by 2011 (Yay!).

* Signed an executive order that would authorize California and other state governments to set their own fuel-efficiency standards. This a great move because it works so that these states can only toughen (not weaken) fuel-efficiency standards (Yay!).

I think from now on, I'm going to do them daily rather than sum it up in a week- this was way too time consuming. Check the time pumpkins, I did it for you...on a Friday! (Round of applause)

Night :)
Read more!

Monday, January 26, 2009

1st Installment of Eco Action- Water

I'm taking a Sustainable Works workshop- workshops to show you how to decrease your carbon footprint. We all know that sharing is caring, so with that, below are some tidbits and tips to become a more earth-loving person.

This week we discussed water (2 weeks ago). Global water supplies are shrinking and it is our obligation to impede or halt this shrinkage.

(Thanks to James Neeley on
--The Tidbits-- - 1/3 of consumed energy is for pumping water, so if we decrease our water usage, we decrease our energy usage.

- Mississippi and its dead zone: lots of herbicides and fertilizers used in this area--> these chemicals polluted Mississippi's water--> increase in algae (suck in oxygen)--> water with very little oxygen--> decrease in water-life.

- Urban runoff (largest unregulated source of water pollution): water from excess watering (gardens, driveways, etc.) mix with heavy metals and other harmful materials, which then go into the oceans. This pollutes our oceans and their inhabitants.

- Our creeks and wetlands are constantly being paved over by real estate developers. Creeks and wetlands are both natural means to curb urban runoff and cleanse out pollutants.

- When water warms--> water volume increases--> rising sea levels.

- Animal factory farming uses more water than all other industries combined. If you were to refrain from 1 pound of beef that be equivalent to not showering for a year (14 min showers)!

- To make a cotton t-shirt: 10,000 literss of water.
To make an organic cotton t-shirt: 5,000 gallons of water.

- On average, a single family consumes 69.3 gallons of water/day only for indoor usage. If you include outdoor usage, it skyrockets to 350 gallons/day.

- 30% of the water consumed is flushed down the toilet.

The (cheap) Tips:

- Fix leaks. A steady drip can waste 20 gallons of water/day. A toilet leak can waste up to 200 gallons/day.
-- To detect leaks in toilets: add food coloring to the tank--> wait 15 mins--> if color water appears, there's a leak.

- Install a low flow showerhead (2.5 gallons/minute or less). Normal showerheads use 5 gallons/min or more! It decreases water used but increases water pressure. It'll also save you $$ on your monthly water bill.

- Install aerators on faucets. Same as showerheads: decreases water used but increases water pressure.

- Eat less beef and other water consuming foods (from Food Reveolution by John Robbins & according to Soil and Water Specialists from University of CA Agricultural Extension):
-- 1 pound of chicken= 815 gallons
-- 1 pound of pork= 1,630 gallons
-- 1 pound of beef= 5,214 gallons

- If you turn off your faucet while brushing your teeth, you can save up to 1000 gallons/month.

- Take shorter showers and try to not take baths- saves up to 20 gallons/time.

-Turn off water while soaping or shampooing. You can also get Lowest Flow Showerhead- 1.2-1.4 gallons/min without really compromising pressure. If you turn it off, it'll stay warm for you when you turn it back on to rinse. Best of all- $12!

- Decrease water flow in sink so it's no thicker than a pencil's width.

- Wash fruits and veggies all at once rather than individually.

- Allow frozen foods to thaw in refrigerator overnight rather than running water over it.

- Only do full loads of laundry and dishes. Using a dishwasher is more water-friendly than handwashing a full load.

- Plant native and/or drought tolerant plants.

- Refrain from dumping hazardous chemicals down the sink. By doing this, it could worsen urban runoff.


*Much of the information expressed here comes from the Sustainable Works workshops and its handbook.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


"We will extend our hand, if you unclench your fists."
- Inaugural speech.

Exquisite. Read more!

What a beautiful day.

Get ready, get set... GO!

Time for progress. Time to do what's right. Time to say peace out to Bush!

Have a memorable day :)

<3 <3 <3 Read more!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We need someone special.

Quick and Urgent!!!!

Vote by 5:00 PM EST, to make the issue of obtaining a special prosecutor to investigate the crimes that the Bush Administration committed (torture, domestic surveillance, etc.) a part of the top 10 (which it currently is). If it maintains its top 10 status, it will be presented to the Obama administration January 16th. The top three ideas will partner with nonprofit organizations to make it into policy.

VOTE NOW! We need Bush and his admin to be investigated and tried.
Read more!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Best Buddies with Barack!

Mister Obama is about to become president and people are questioning whether their voices will be muffled through the status he's about to acquire. Worry not, he has got it covered.

The Citizen's Briefing Book is an outlet that lets you share the issues that you deem important and the ones that you feel need to be addressed by the federal government with Mr. President-to-Be. The issues that are best-rated will rise into the president's foreground and ideally, be addressed by him and the federal government. I absolutely love this idea! It turns our democracy, where we hope that the people we vote for keep his/her stance on political/social/environmental issues, into more of a social democracy where citizen's ideas and issues can be directly heard. Although, only a select few citizen's thoughts are heard, it is us who control who's the best rated and thereby, who is heard.

I don't really know how much effect the issues presented in this forum will have on public policy but hey, at least it's worth a shot. I guess in time we will be able to see whether the issues that matter most to us are addressed, both in the form of words and actions.

Fingers Crossed!

<3 href="">
Citizen's Briefing Book

Sorry for the disappearance. I was chasing time for a few days.

Isn't it strange that the action of crossing one's fingers can translate to good luck or to nullify a promise? A little weird.
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Continuous destruction and terrorism in Gaza.

With more than 700 Palestinians dead and 3,000 seriously wounded, we cannot be silent.

A national march and rally is occurring
Saturday, January 10th, 2008.

It starts at 12 Noon
@ the Westwood Federal Building
11000 Wilshire Blvd., LA (@ Veteran)

The Plan:

Noon- performers, speakers and music.
1 PM- Mass march through Westwood
2 PM and on- Rally

For more info:
Answer LA

Come and join the fight! Speak out against genocide! Show your support for Gaza!

Read more!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rent-a-text save some green!

A while back a friend, Jazz, and I conjured up a business idea that dealt with renting textbooks rather than buying, so it would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly. After getting into the nitty gritty of the proposal, we dropped it and the idea quickly withered away.

Apparently, when it withered from our minds, the idea traveled to the people behind the website is a textbook rental website that has over a million textbooks that you can rent for an allotted time- semester, quarter, or intersession. The shorter the session is, the cheaper it is. Chegg gives you ample time to return books and it covers shipping when returning them. You can also sell or donate books!

The most splendid part of this whole idea is that for every text you rent, sell or donate, Chegg will plant a tree! So not only are you reusing textbooks, which decreases their demand, so less texts are printed but you're also planting a tree simulatenously. Granted, you do waste material on packaging BUT most of us buy our books using or amazon anyway, so wastage already occurs. At least with Chegg, books come from the same place rather than different locations, so all the books rented are packaged in one box.

We are and have been in an age when forests are infinitely stripped down and their slaughtered bodies aren't even fully utilized. Chegg is an efficient way to decrease your contribution in this cycle of greed.

All-in-all, Chegg is economical + environmentally friendly= SuperGreen!

Read more!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Your energy can electrify the world.

(Courtesy of Sharons Web on Flickr)

Don't you sometimes feel that you could light up the world with the energy inside of you? Many days, I feel as though I have so much energy but not enough outlets. To rid myself of some of this energy I dance, wander and do silly movements, but I always have so much left to spare. Tokyo has come up with a solution in how to consume my unused energy:

Piezoelectric Flooring.
(Courtesy Tinou Bao)

Piezoelectric flooring is flooring that essentially absorbs the kinetic energy produced by the movement of people and transforms it into energy that can be used to power objects. The Tokyo subway systems have used this flooring to generate energy to power its display systems and ticket gates. With the amount of people that frequent these subway systems (busiest in the world), their floors are able produce 1400kw/day, which is more than what is necessary.

How it works
(courtesy tech-on)

How amazing would it be to know that every movement you make contributes to your communities energy?

Dance and save the world- What a beautiful notion.
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