Category Archives: Politics

Tee for Terrorist?!



Apparently wearing T-shirts with writing in Arabic means that you are a potential terrorist – another paranoid attack on free speech in the name of “national security.”

Does Tee Stand For Terrorist? NYC Student Stopped on Staten Island Ferry For Wearing T-Shirt Saying “We Will Not Be Silent” in Arabic

Read more or listen/watch the podcast/videocast from Democracy Now!

Iraqi Peace Activist Forced to Change T-Shirt Bearing Arabic Script Before Boarding Plane at JFK 

Read more or listen/watch the podcast/videocast from Democracy Now!

Another version of the story.

Support free speech by ordering and wearing a “We will not be silent” T-shirt here. 


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Filed under Activism, Politics

Ceasefire Campaign: Now on Friendster, MySpace and Facebook

Help us spread the news about the Ceasefire Campaign.

You can blog about us, forward our email to your friends, and join the Ceasefire Campaign group on  Friendster, MySpace or Facebook.

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Filed under Activism, Iran, New York, Nuclear, Politics

Ceasefire Campaign: Talk to Iran


The Res Publica, the group I am working for here in New York just launched a new campaign today urging the US to open direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program.

If you get a chance, please take a look and make your voice heard.

To learn more about this issue, check out this fascinating and enlightening interview on Democracy Now! with former UN Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter:

Scott Ritter on “Target Iran: The Truth About the White House’s Plans for Regime Change”

From the Ceasefire Campaign:

North Korea’s nuclear test last week showed that policies of isolation and threats of regime change will not prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. We need to act quickly, before the Bush Administration makes the same mistakes in Iran. The UN Security Council is scheduled to discuss sanctions on Iran this week, making it critical to get as many people as possible involved in this campaign over the next few days, while world leaders are debating their options. Click below to send a message to President Bush, calling on the US to enter direct negotiations with Iran:

The last thing the world needs is a global nuclear arms race, so let’s seize this moment to show the Bush Administration that the world has a stake in resolving things with Iran peacefully – and will hold him accountable.

Talks between the US and Iran won’t guarantee a solution to the nuclear problem, but no talks will guarantee failure. There is no military solution to this issue, and President Bush’s aggressive policies have begun to spark a global nuclear arms race, as countries rush to build nuclear weapons. There have been several calls, even from prominent members of Bush’s own Republican Party, to change course. Join this rising chorus by clicking below:

The Bush Administration is starting to learn that it ignores global public opinion at its peril. Let’s send a strong message to President Bush – forward this email to your friends and family, and encourage them to help prevent the nightmare of a new global nuclear arms race from becoming reality.


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Filed under Activism, Campaign, Iran, Nuclear, Politics

Challenging Columbus Day

Next Monday is Columbus Day in the US, a day that perpetuates a hegemonic myth that justifies and even celebrates colonialism, imperialism and genocide.

To find out more about why we should protest the holiday: 

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Stop Rokkasho (website in English) is a collaboration between artists and activists that seeks to stop the operation of the Rokkasho Nuclear Reprocessing Plant in northern Japan which is scheduled to begin operations later this year. The mainstream Japanese press has been all but silent about the opening of this nuclear reprocessing plant and the potential dangers of this kind of nuclear facility. The site was spearheaded by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and in addition to lots of information about Rokkasho and the dangers of nuclear reprocessing, the site also features various remixes of a song that seeks to spread awareness about Rokkasho as well as contributions by visual artists and photographers. People around the world can also create and submit their own remixes to the site. There is also a podcast. Definitely worth checking out!

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Filed under Activism, Japan, Politics, Uncategorized


The people of Catalonia have voted 'yes' by a margin of 74% to the Statute of Autonomy. Catalonia is a region (or what some consider a "nation without a state") located in the northeastern part of Spain, which includes the vibrant city of Barcelona. The traditional "Catalan Countries" (Paisos Catalans) also includes Valencia, the Balearic Islands, and Northern Catalonia across the Pyrenees, which is now under French jurisdiction.

I had the honor of spending an academic year (2000-2001) studying at the University of Barcelona and have been following the progress of the Catalan people towards greater self-determination ever since.
The Catalans have their own language and culture that is quite distinct from the Castillian (AKA "Spanish") language and culture of central and southern Spain. The Catalonia have historical claims to an independent state dating back to the Middle Ages but eventually, there country was carved up and swallowed up by Spain and France. Also in more recent history, the Catalan language and culture were suppressed during the Franco dictatorship in Spain.

Despite the large margin voting in favor of the Statute of Autonomy, there was also a rather worrying rate of abstention. Slightly less than 50% of registered voters voted in the referendum. Both Spanish nationalists, who believe in maintaining the centralized, unified nature of the Spanish state, and Catalan nationalists, who want nothing less than full independence opposed the Statute. However, the statute was supported by Zapatero's Socialist government in Madrid which is also pursuing talks with Basque nationalists. In concrete terms, the new Statute would give Catalonia's government more tax revenues from the central government in Madrid as well as more say in areas such as the management of immigration, airports and language and culture.

While some may argue that "autonomy" just means an added layer of bureaucratic red-tape, I would still have to say that autonomy is a step in the right direction, with full independence through a democratic process being the most desirable end result in the long term. After all, in the last few weeks, we have seen Montenegro and Serbia become independent countries through peaceful, democratic means, putting the final nail in the coffin of the former Yugoslavia. I think the increasing number of independent, sovereign states in the world is good for democracy and good for the protection of cultural and linguistic diversity. We have other historical examples of peaceful and democratic separations of nation-states, such as the Velvet Divorce of Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as the independence of Norway from Sweden.

It is interesting to note that while there has been a greater trend towards "national" and regional sovereignty and autonomy, there is also the parallel trend of international integration – such as the European Union. These trends work very well in tandem, even if they sound contradictory at first. The basis of international, interstatal organizations is that of national sovereignty. All parties come to the table as sovereign states. So the Catalan people, should have the right to negotiate in the context of the European Union as a sovereign state, equal in standing to Spain or France or any other E.U. member state. Only then can the system be truly democratic and ensure the protection of cultural diversity in a globalizing world.

Economically, an independent Catalan state is viable.  Along with the the Basque Country, it is one of the most economically developed regions in Spain.  On the socio-cultural level, even though Catalan is considered a "minority language," in absolute numbers, it has more speakers than European "national" languages such as Danish, Norwegian or Finnish. 

Radio-Canada has also recently done a report on Catalonia, comparing the situation there with that of Québec.  Both are regions with minority cultures and languages with nationalist aspirations.  Both have embarked on projects of linguistic and cultural revitalization as a way of countering years of colonialism, assimilation, and neglect.  Catalan leaders interviewed in the report openly admited that Québec served as a model for Catalonia in terms of linguistic and cultural policy.

In a broader context, we can apply the example of Catalonia to other regions/nations without a state.  Certainly, China can learn a lesson or two.  China is still working under outdated, imperialist notions of the Chinese "nation" when it comes to its policies towards Xinjiang (East Turkestan), Tibet, and Taiwan (even though Taiwan is already de facto independent since 1949).  Obviously, China is growing very quickly on an economic level, and it seeks to maintain its territorial integrity as a way of maintaining law and order as well as to ensure its access to natural resources.  However, a "smarter" way to progress would be to allow for state-to-state relations on the political level while maintaining increasingly integrated economic ties.  So in the case of Taiwan – let us be our own country, but let's work together economically.  Otherwise, Chinese policies amount to nothing less than imperialism, no better than the Japanese imperialism of the first half of the 20th century that the Chinese government is so quick to point out and attack Japan for.


Filed under Catalonia, Politics, Quebec, Uncategorized

Loving Day
Celebrate Loving Day! A celebration of interracial love. That’s something I could get behind, or under, or whatever position you want!

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