Israel found lacking in press freedom

Here at the University of Texas, a Jewish student group called Hillel holds a massive “Israel Block Party” every year celebrating all things Israel.  Which is fine, except that there’s a lot of oppression that gets swept under the rug during the party, as with most nationalist celebrations.  The organizers portray Israel as a thriving and diverse liberal democracy, and it is in some aspects.  But then they go too far – every year that I attended the party with pro-Palestine protesters I saw the slogan “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.”  Not true.  Israel doesn’t rank all that high in ensuring freedom for the press, either, according to a new report by Reporters Sans Frontieres.  Via the Heathlander.

U.S. meddling in Bolivian politics uncovered

Investigative journalist Jeremy Bigwood says he’s obtained six documents through a FOIA request that prove the American government “has been and continues to be conspiring against the government” of Bolivian President Evo Morales. The e-mails and other records show that “development funds” from USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy were heavily directed to anti-Morales groups meant to serve as a “counterweight to the radical MAS (Movement Toward Socialism) or its successors.” More info and the raw documents are at Bigwood’s new blog. (Thanks to David Morris for the e-mail.)

Bush signs extreme anti-piracy law

Torrentfreak reports that President Bush signed into law a new “draconian” anti-piracy bill on Monday.  The new statute is a wet dream for the movie and film industry lobbies: it creates an “intellectual property czar” to oversee efforts to intimidate citizens out of pirating copyrighted material, as well as stiffer penalties for piracy.  See Lawrence Lessig’s TEDtalk for a thorough critique of intellectual property law.

Naomi Klein on activist journalism

Naomi Klein, best-selling author and a leading critic of globalization, was in Austin this weekend to speak and help raise funds for the Workers Defense Project. I didn’t get a chance to see her, but I did catch her interview with Riz Khan on Al Jazeera English a few weeks ago. At the start of the interview Klein explains with real eloquence how she conceives of her role as an “activist journalist.” Here’s the exchange:

Kahn: You know, you’re an activist, journalist and a writer – but how do you define yourself?

Klein: I usually define myself as an activist journalist, by which I mean a journalist who is embedded in movements for social change – I identify with the movements I write about. I’m not a propagandist for those movements, I’m committed to the truth, I’m committed to fact-checking. But I’m proud to be associated with these movements and aligned with these movements. And of course I’m an author.

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Blog Action Day 2008

Today is Blog Action Day 2008, meaning bloggers of all stripes are encouraged to cover and discuss the issue of poverty. Soon I’ll be posting my extended biographical interview with Preston English, a 52-year-old Vietnam veteran who is just emerging from more than 20 years of homelessness after finally receiving compensation from the government for his exposure to Agent Orange during the war. I became friends with Preston last January during a Food Not Bombs serving. Food Not Bombs is a good mix of solidarity and charityfind a chapter near you if you’re looking to help the poor in your own community.

Multimedia map: Tibet Uprising 2008

Thanks to my rhetoric professor from last semester, Sean McCarthy, for inspiring this project.  This multimedia map aims to demonstrate the truly international and unprecedented scope of protest against the Chinese government’s repression of Tibetans this year, from an uprising that erupted inside Tibet last spring through the summer’s Olympic games.  I’ll be posting a few more interviews and pieces from last semester over the next few days.


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