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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

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Beyond Vengence (11/00)


"When we abolished the punishment for treason that you should be hanged and then cut down while still alive, then disemboweled while still alive, and then quartered, we did not abolish that punishment because we sympathized with traitors, but because we took the view that this was a punishment no longer consistent with our self-respect."

These words, spoken by Lord Chancellor Gardiner during the 1965 death penalty abolition debates in the British Parliament, illustrate the view of most people opposed to capital punishment. It’s not sympathy for the murderer that we feel. Indeed, most of us feel a great deal of anger and revulsion toward murderers and their actions. Our objection is that the death penalty is a renunciation of all that’s embodied in our concept of humanity. Or, more simply put, executions degrade us all. read more

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Panama’s Toxic Legacy (9/00)

When the US officially handed over the Panama Canal to the Republic of Panama last December, the historic transfer was praised as the beginning a new bilateral relationship between the two countries. But in at least one important area – the environment – nothing has changed. The US no longer controls the canal, but its imperial legacy is evident in Panama in the unexploded shells, grenades, and other munitions left by the military after decades of training and arms testing. More than 110,000 pieces of undetected ordinance may be laying on the ground, or buried under the jungle canapĀŽ covering 7000 hectares of land, according to figures released by the US. read more

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Columbia: Legalizing Drugs (9/00)


With the unfolding of capitalism to its ultimate consequences in its imperialist stage, this phase of globalization that is sinking the majority of the world’s population into misery, many peoples with an important agrarian economy opt for the cultivation of coca, opium poppies and marijuana as the only way to survive.

The profits realized by these peasants are minimal. Rather, those who really enrich themselves are the middlemen who turn these crops into mind altering substances and those who transport and commercialize them in the developed countries, especially the United States. The authorities designated to combat this process are easy prey for corruption, since their ethical principles succumb to any bribe larger than $50. read more