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Fireworks, Politics and a Globalized Stew

Fireworks are exploding everywhere. The Caracas baseball team won a key game and they’ll now go on to final rounds, playing teams from various countries in the region. People have been driving around the city waving the team flag, honking horns and screaming out windows.

It’s the last day of the world social forum. Tents are being packed up and the streets are beginning to look eerily vacant. Buses full “foristas” roar off toward the airport. In many ways, it’s been a college semester smashed into a week. So much information has been floating around, so many panels listened to. However, just as it was at last year’s forum, the best part of the week wasn’t the panels themselves, but meeting like-minded people from all over the world. Meeting people in person whom I had only known through cyber space has been great. read more

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Alive in Baghdad: An Interview with Brian Conley

Benjamin Dangl: How did you get involved in journalism and journalistic film making?

Brian Conley: Well, I initially intended to study history and political science in college. When I arrived there, however, I quickly decided that art and, particularly film, were very good ways to influence the public and to talk about important historical events that might not otherwise be learned or discussed in the public discourse.


Police Violence in Rio de Janeiro

Death is nothing new to the Morro do Estado, a mish-mash of redbrick favela housing that clings to the slopes high above central Niteroi, a city near Rio de Janeiro. But as locals crowded into the Bar do Raimundo for a game of snooker one Sunday night in December they had little idea just how close it was.

Within minutes five residents - among them three boys under the age of 15 - lay dead. The weathered cement walls outside the bar were pockmarked with gunshots and the pavement covered in a thick coat of blood.


Depleted Uranium: A Looming Worldwide Calamity

Forget about Avian bird flu. The threat of it becoming a pandemic is more a political scare tactic and potential bonanza for drug company profits and its major shareholders' net worth (including Gilead Sciences, the developer of the Tamiflu drug and its former Chairman and major shareholder Donald Rumsfeld) than a likely public health crisis - unless you live around infected chickens or take an unproven safe immunization shot. There are much more other likely killer bacterial and viral threats than Avian that get little attention. Don't worry about possible or unlikely threats. Worry about real ones. Bacteria and viruses untreatable by anti-biotics are good examples. So are global warming and many others. But, there's possibly one threat that tops all others both in gravity and because it's been deliberately concealed from the public - never discussed, explained or had any action taken to remediate it. It's the global threat from the toxic effects of depleted uranium (DU), and like global warming; DU has the potential to destroy all planetary life. How can something so potentially destructive be hidden and ignored and why?

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The Social Architecture of Caracas

One of the most noticeable attributes of the city of Caracas is the contrast between social landscapes. Even the highway that was until recently the main route between the airport and Caracas gave the traveller a distant view of the barrios, the Do- It-Yourself neighborhoods , labyrinths of houses piled on top of eachother, built into the hills surrounding the city. Now, with the closing of the bridge on that main highway, the new route, La Carretera Vieja, the old highway, actually, rumor has it, a route first constructed by the Spanish 400 years ago, travellers now have an even more impressive entrance to the city. After a winding climb into the mountains, busses and taxis descend precipitously into the heart of Catia , the largest barrio in Caracas and, Ben says, the largest barrio/favela/slum in Latin America. Since the road has only two-lanes, and can often only accomodate one bus at a time on the hairpin turns, traffic has been backed up for hours. read more

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Dispatches from the World Social Forum in Venezuela

Toward Freedom is in Caracas at the World Social Forum to organize a panel on the hopes and challenges of independent media, to participate in the forum’s events and learn more about Venezuela’s political process. On this page we’ll be posting regular dispatches and photos from this experience.

12/30: Fireworks, Politics, Globalized Stew

1/25: The Social Architecture of Caracas

1/25: Information on Panelists, Time and Location of Toward Freedom’s Panel on Independent Media  read more