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Assault of Openness (03/02)

Since Sept. 11, deep concerns have arisen about the threats to civil liberties and basic rights posed by the US government’s anti-terrorist campaign. Among other things, Uncle Sam has profiled the Muslim-American community, eavesdropped on conversations between people held in detention and their lawyers, and required colleges to provide certain records on foreign students.

Less publicized has been the federal government’s bold move to drastically restrict the right to know what officials are doing. But this is also part of a trend involving several other Western countries, not coincidentally some of US’s closet allies in the “war on terrorism.” read more

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Caravan Of Hope, A Zapatista March (05/01)

On February 24 – Mexico’s Flag Day – twenty-three leaders of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) and the famed Subcomandante Marcos prepared to depart the highland colonial town of San Cristobal in Chiapas on an historic caravan to the capital. Called the March for Indigenous Dignity, the caravan captured the imagination of every sector of Mexican society, from illiterate peasants to national politicians, and occupied the front page of nearly every major Mexican newspaper and many international papers throughout the month-long journey. The attention continued during the additional two weeks the Zapatista delegation spent in the city, while negotiating to speak in front of the national Congress. read more

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Columbia’s Oil War (5/01)

In Colombia’s northeast Norte de Santander province, the country’s richest oil region, an indigenous people known as the U’wa are in a life and death struggle with Occidental Petroleum (OXY), one of the world’s largest multinational oil companies. It’s been going on since the early 1990s, when OXY began oil exploration plans that threaten to destroy the tribe’s culture and way of life. The U’wa oppose oil drilling in their ancestral lands, saying that oil is “the blood of Mother Earth” and therefore must not be touched. read more

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Presidential Race: Why it Didn’t Matter (11/00)

No matter what you thought of the US presidential race, aren’t you glad it’s almost over? Certainly, half the voting public must be, those who don’t bother to show up and likely consider elections an intrusion or a rip off. And the rest? Conventional wisdom says most voters didn’t care for their choices. Regardless, it didn’t bring out the best in our leaders or the system. 

Yet, there’s an untold story. Actually, the whole thing was a sophisticated exercise in "perception management." According to Valeska and Ronald Stupak, PR strategists with Burson-Marsteller, that’s what any successful business, politician, or movement must do – make sure the perceptions of potential customers are impacted in precise and powerful ways. It used to be called propaganda. And the key isn’t content, but symbols and cues that appeal to emotions. "We must never forget," the experts explain, "that emotion has much more to do with behavior than reason does."  read more

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Ideas Are Also Weapons (11/00)

The world is not square, or so we learn at school, yet, on the brink of the third millennium, it is not round, either. I do not know which geometrical figure best represents the world in its present state but, in an era of digital communication, we could see it as a gigantic screen – one of those screens you can program to display several pictures at the same time, one inside the other. In our global world, the pictures come from all over the planet. But some are missing – not because there is not enough room on the screen but because someone up there selected these pictures rather than others. read more

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The Battle for Vieques Is Far from Over (11/00)

Despite setbacks, the campaign to expel the US military from the Puerto Rican island of Vieques continues to expand and intensify. Until May 2000, for more than a year, protesters succeeded in bravely placing their bodies on the line between the island and Navy bombs at 13 encampments (TF, Nov. 1999). During this period, at least two major military exercises, slated to include bombing, shelling, amphibious landings, air assaults, ship-to-ship warfare, and anti-submarine operations had to be canceled. read more