“And I believe that good journalism, good television, can make our world a better place.”

“In emerging democracies like Russia, in authoritarian states like Iran or even Yugoslavia, journalists play a vital role in civil society. In fact, they form the very basis of those new democracies and civil societies.”

– Christiane Amanpour
These two quotes seem particularly apt given recent world events.  And by journalists, I don’t mean just the official press, I mean the courageous citizen journalists like the twitter users who are giving everything they have to make sure the world hears their story and perspective from inside Tehran.

Everyone who doubts the power/usefulness of social media should read Andrew Sullivan’s post, “The Revolution Will Be Twittered“, and then check out the #iranelection hashtag on Twitter.

The key force behind this is the next generation, the Millennials, who elected Obama in America and may oust Ahmadinejad in Iran. They want freedom; they are sick of lies; they enjoy life and know hope.

This generation will determine if the world can avoid the apocalypse that will come if the fear-ridden establishments continue to dominate global politics, motivated by terror, armed with nukes, and playing old but now far too dangerous games. This generation will not bypass existing institutions and methods: look at the record turnout in Iran and the massive mobilization of the young and minority vote in the US. But they will use technology to displace old modes and orders. Maybe this revolt will be crushed. But even if it is, the genie has escaped this Islamist bottle.

I think the days of CNN breaking the news are over – people will share their stories themselves, bypassing the mass media conduit if necessary, and the role of the media will be to verify, organize, track, and curate the information reported via liveblogs, Twitter, etc.  The Huffington Post is doing a great job of that right now with their page on the Iran elections and subsequent fallout.

This article – Pax Corelone – by John C. Hulsman in The National Interest is kind of awesome.  He looks at the American presidential race through the lens of the The Godfather.  According to him, the U.S. is currently in the position that the Corleone family was when Vito Corleone died (he is representative of America’s post-Cold War hegemony) – after all, the attack from the Sollozo family that led to his death was sudden and seemingly out of the blue (being too secure in ones position can be dangerous). 

So what happens now?  In the Godfather, the Corleone heirs had three potential strategies – Tom, the family’s lawyer who had a diplomatic, “let’s talk it out” outlook that is similar in philosophy to the modern Democratic party, Sonny, the hothead eldest son who favored a “shoot first, ask questions later” response to the Sollozo threat (hmm, which party/politicians share that mindset?), and Michael Corleone, who eventually saves the family thanks to his ability to adapt to the new multipolar world.  He was a realist.

“Viewing the world through untinted lenses, he sees that the age of dominance the family enjoyed for so long under his father is ending. Alone among the three brothers, Michael senses that a shift is underway toward a more diffuse power arrangement, in which multiple power centers will jockey for position and influence. To survive and succeed in this new environment, Michael knows the family will have to adapt.”

At the end of the piece Hulsman asks the key question – is there a Michael Corleone in the race?

“Can any of the candidates vying to become the next president of the United States match Michael’s cool, dispassionate courage in the face of epochal change? Will they avoid living in the comforting embrace of the past, from which both Tom and Sonny ultimately could not escape? Or will they emulate Michael’s flexibility—to preserve America’s position in a dangerous world?”

That’s the gist of it, but you should really go read the whole article, because it is excellent.

For some reason, HuffPollstrology from the Huffington Post amuses me way too much, probably because it mocks the endless series of poll results that are constantly being delivered by breathless pundits, as well as those who consider astrology/horoscopes equivalent to destiny.

Here are the latest candidate horoscopes.  Be amused (the comments are kind of funny too – it’s satire, people). 

Voices Without Votes

February 6, 2008

Wondering about the rest of the world’s perception of the candidates in the current U.S. presidential race?  Reuters and Global Voices Online are working to capture global opinions via the web – they have partnered to create Voices Without Votes.  Here is what it is all about:

Voices Without Votes highlights conversations in non-American blogs and citizen media, with emphasis on the regions covered by Global Voices: Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the Middle East.

Our goals are:

• To monitor global citizen media responses to US foreign and presidential
politics in the run up to the elections.

• To illuminate the effect of US foreign policy abroad and provide a lively
and interactive news experience.

• To enable readers to experience American events through the eyes of
ordinary citizens from outside the United States.

What you’ll find on this site

This website consists of original writing that summarizes and translates from world blogs AND a daily aggregated feed of handpicked posts from websites around the world that provide thoughtful foreign perspectives.

Why is this so important?  Because the results of the election are going to have a considerable effect on the rest of the world – and it’s all too easy to get caught up in domestic issues and forget that hey, we’re all on this planet together. 

Bonus link: this post by Pascale, a Haitian living Abu Dhabi (talk about global perspective) is particularly eloquent.

If you know of any international bloggers or posts discussing the American election, be sure to submit your links.

Feministing Rocks

February 1, 2008

Congratulations to Jessica Valenti and the other Feministing bloggers for their very complimentary mention in the New York Times today, in an article about the lack of unity among feminists, and women in general.  Here’s a key quote:

“That’s part of why she believes the future of feminism lies in online activism, not old-school organizations. Young women today don’t need “the iconic leadership of a NOW or a Gloria Steinem,” she said. With online communities like her own, women have access to vast clearinghouses for information, support, even consciousness-raising. “We have each other,” Ms. Valenti said, “and that’s pretty important.”

It also touches on the 2008 election – and how there is a general feeling that if you don’t support Hillary, you are not a good feminist.  I don’ t think I even need to explain how ridiculous that is, but seriously, supporting Hillary just because she’s a woman isn’t being a good feminist, it is being an ill-prepared, uniformed voter.  Vote for the person and their future plans, stances on issues, and everything else that is actually relevant, not for their gender (or their race, now that I mention it), please.   

More Blog For Choice Posts

January 22, 2008

Some links to great posts for Blog For Choice Day:

Erica Jong in the Huffington Post: If Men Could Get Pregnant, Abortion Would Be A Sacrament.

Anna J. Cook: The Radical Idea That I Am A Person(here’s a bit, but you should really go read the whole thing):

“Over the last twelve years, however, I have been forced to recognize how fragile my right to bodily integrity and self-determination is. I have gotten the message loud and clear from politicians, judges and activists: My personhood is conditional. My body is not my own. I am one broken condom, one impulsive sexual encounter, one sexual assault, one anti-abortion, conscience-ridden pharmacist away from becoming less than a person in the eyes of the law.

The modern political and legal struggle over abortion rights, and reproductive rights more broadly, has developed a hyper-focus on the question of fetal rights and the definition of when life begins. We have forgotten to consider an equally important question: regardless of how we determine when human life and constitutional rights begin, when do women’s basic human rights end? I ask this question of anyone who supports anti-abortion, fetal rights policies: do I somehow become less of a person in the eyes of the law the moment I become pregnant?”

And Cristina Page’s article in the Huffington Post about Huckabee is just scary:

“Today, Governor Mike Huckabee is scheduled to travel to Georgia to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. There he plans to join Georgia Right to Life to lend his support, as well as the focus of the national media, to HR 536. This legislation, also called the Human Life Amendment, is a state constitutional amendment that reclassifies the most effective and popular forms of contraception as abortion. The goal of the amendment is to create a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade while also defining life as beginning at fertilization. The anti-abortion movement believes that hormonal contraception (the pill, the patch, the depo shot, the nuva ring, the IUD) can destroy a fertilized egg. By setting in law the assertion — the unproveable assertion — that life begins at the moment of fertilization, the most common forms of contraception become abortion.

James Bopp, a leading anti-abortion attorney, in a memo to pro-life activists, explained what the practical applications of HR 536 would be. Establishing in law that life begins at the moment of fertilization could lead to, he writes, “enforcement of homicide laws against pregnant women, restricting the activities of pregnant women, outlawing contraception and so on.” He continues, “The big picture is that the Human Life Amendment creates uncertainty in the law leaving it up to future legislatures to establish implementing laws and up to enforcement officials and courts to sort out what the law might mean in various applications.” In other words, let’s leave your right to use contraception up to your local assemblymember, district attorney and sheriff.”

“What the Huck?” indeed.

It’s Blog For Choice Day

January 22, 2008

Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and NARAL America is hosting Blog for Choice Day in honor of that historic decision.  To take a page from Feministing’s book, here are the reasons why I vote pro-choice:

Because I believe that in everyone’s right to complete bodily autonomy.

Because I believe that reproductive freedom is not a reward for those who have the means and access to birth control and who can easily afford medical care.

Because I know that outlawing abortion will not cause it to disappear, rather, it will become a dangerous underground procedure that can seriously harm or kill the women who undergo it.

Because President Bush’s Global Gag Rule, a.k.a the Mexico City Policy, is detrimental to the health of women and children around the world.

Because I trust women to make the choice that is best for them and their families.

Because I believe every mother should be willing and every child should be wanted.

Because I am sick and tired of wealthy old white men telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

Because I am horrified by the fact that pharmacists, doctors, and hospitals can still deny sexual assault survivors access to Plan B.

Because the lack of access to birth control, reproductive counseling, and yes, abortions disproportionately affects poor women.

Because women will never achieve total equality with men until they have complete dominion over their bodies, including reproductive freedom.

Because in the United States, no one has the right to force their religious views, beliefs, or opinions on anyone else – and I’ll like to keep it that way.

And for more information on the current state of reproductive rights in the U.S., here is a great article from the Nation by Frances Kissling and Kate Michelman.

And a link to Jezebel’s post on the topic.