In the late Spring of 2003, amidst the political fallout of "Old Europe's" refusal to support the US invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration threw down a gauntlet that threatened to permanently aggravate transatlantic hostilities. As a political favor to its agribusiness allies in the Midwestern farm belt, the administration filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) seeking to overturn Europe's de facto five-year moratorium on approvals of new genetically engineered crop varieties. The governments of Argentina and Canada also signed on to the complaint; together these three countries grow roughly 80 percent of the world's genetically engineered crops.
"Whatever you do, just don't get stuck in a dead-end job." These words had a powerful effect on me and have occupied my consciousness over the past seven years. It was the summer after my high school graduation and this advice was given to me while I was working in the mechanized bakery of a large grocery store chain. My coworker had been there for over 20 years and now, in the midst of back problems and middle-age, she was unhappy with her life and urged me not to make the same mistake.
Breaking ranks with every former president, Republican and Democratic alike, President George W. Bush is engaged in a high-profile campaign to undo Social Security. He hopes to accomplish what has eluded his ideological brethren who fought for similar ends over the last 70 years. Like Representative Carl Curtis in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Bush seeks to curtail the benefits of all but the lowest-paid workers, so that all beneficiaries would receive meager, basically flat benefits, largely unrelated to earnings.
Four and a half months since Katrina struck land, the situation in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast still leaves a lot of troubles and a lot of questions. Many of these questions are being asked by grassroots media activists. In the immediate aftermath New Orleans' coverage was grossly lacking. While CNN and local affiliates set up shop dozens of miles away in Baton Rouge, grassroots media activists both in New Orleans and elsewhere prepared to fill the gap left by the mainstream media's coverage.
Just as negotiations on the "final status" of Kosovo were to start on January 25 under the chairmanship of Martii Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and a seasoned negotiator, Ibrahim Rugova, President of Kosovo, died of lung cancer in the Kosovo capital Pristina. The start of the final status talks have been postponed but should start relatively soon as the negotiating team that Rugova had put together should be able to continue, but without the long-range vision and spirit of reconciliation that Rugova represented.
"This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet." - Iranian Born Poet, Rumi
Nine centuries after Rumi penned these words, young Iranians post blogs to express themselves in a nation where drinking liquor and wearing lipstick warrants public flogging. The modern day "secret sky" is the world wide web, the veils have not fallen and though Rumi was speaking of love, it is, in today's Iran, interchangeable with freedom.