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Ecological Debt Campaign: the next great social movement

"One of the greatest lies that the mass media feeds you today, maybe the worst lie, is the theory of development," Giuseppe de Marzo told a small and engaged crowd tonight.  A campaign about ecological debt will help expose this flawed concept of development and the other great lie of third world debt, de Marzo argued in his talk.  Charlie Hardy, with help from bilingual audience participants, translated de Marzo's remarks to English, which this journalist relied on.

"Are the Polls Credible in Venezuela? Vote NO"

Currently in Venezuela a variety of information is being released by national and international polling groups in an attempt to predict the results of the Referendum coming up in two short weeks.  Unfortunately, the impartiality of these polling groups has proved to be virtually non-existent. It has become a routine practice of the opposition to blatantly report information from groups of their choice that have strong interests in the removal of Chávez from power.  These “facts” are then being distributed to press throughout the world.  

Monitoring the Washington Post: Democracy in Venezuela

In reference to the upcoming recall referendum vote on President Hugo Chávez, a July 30th editorial by the Washington Post titled “Monitoring Venezuela” alleges the Venezuelan opposition group Súmate is leading the charge for democracy in Venezuela.

"The vote itself will have a greater chance of being staged and judged fairly thanks to Sumate..." says the Post. In fact, Súmate is a partisan group in oppostion to the government whose sole mission since being founded in 2002 has been to collect signatures and promote a referendum to unseat the president. The more than one million dollars the NED in 2003 funneled to Venezuela went overwhelmingy to opposition groups.

Referendo: "Ainda não temos nem idéia do tamanho da interferência estadunidense"

Não dá para medir o tamanho da interfêrencia estadunidense no referendo na Venezuela. A constatação é de Jeremy Bigwood, jornalista free-lance que em janeiro deste ano revelou a ajuda financeira do governo estadunidense a entidades oposicionistas da Venezuela através da NED – National Endowment for Democracy, instituição privada sem fins lucrativos que recebe verbas do Congresso e do Departamento de Estado.

Live from Cochabamba, Narco News ¡Presente!

They arrived via the airports of Sao Paulo, of Buenos Aires, of Bogotá, of Mexico City, of Miami, of Detroit, of New York, of Washington DC, of La Paz and Santa Cruz... Some took all night "flota" buses... but by the six o'clock hour last night, 58 of 61 Narco News School of Authentic Journalism scholars and professors had arrived on our campus in Cochabamba.

Every single one, bar none, made sacrifices to get here. This is a rare school where professors are unpaid, and come at their own expense... where no tuition is charged to any student... And where with every word spoken, with every glance in any direction, all the beaming, smiling, faces of journalists - not a profession known for its glee nor sense of humor - it is evident that the Authentic Journalism renaissance, more than alive and well, has grown by leaps and bounds since the last time we met 17 months ago in Mexico...

Journalists interview journalists about journalism

The only objective reporting on the Internet: a Spanish-ignorant gringo's dispatches from Bolivia

2004 July 30, COCHABAMBA - Reporters reported on reporters reporting on reporters reporting on reporting this morning in an upstairs room in downtown Cochabamba.  Print, radio, and television reporters, commercial and authentic, nearly filled the room as they interviewed each other on the topic of journalism.  They recorded one another, took notes on one another, filmed one another, and took pictures of one another.

This scene resulted from the start of the 2004 session of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, held near Cochabamba and in the Chapare region of Bolivia.  Reporters from much of the Cochabamba media came to a press conference organized by Alex Contreras Baspineiro, a professor of the School.

En Vísperas de una Revolución Social Continental en Venezuela

Érase una vez un monje extraño que apuradamente cruzó la plaza de Wittenberg (Alemania) hacia la catedral. En todas partes habían campesinos ociosos, discutiendo sobre sus cosechas, sus confesiones, la Iglesia y sus maravillosos amos, observando el espectáculo insólito. Poco después se escuchó un fuerte ruido proveniente del portal de la iglesia; como loco, „lleno de amor y consideración por la verdad” el extraño estaba clavando pedazos de papel sobre el portal gigante, sus famosas 95 tesis. Después desapareció igual cómo había llegado. Desde entonces nadie de los espectadores hablaba más del asunto.

Vivanco Wants Foreign Money in Venezuela Campaign

Human Rights Watch "Americas Division" chief José Miguel Vivanco falls deeper down the slippery slope of anti-democracy lobbying now with his claim that foreign government funding of partisan electoral groups in Venezuela is okey-dokey by him.

First, a reality check and public service announcement for those who might not be familiar with United States campaign finance laws:

If you want to make a donation to the campaign of George W. Bush in the United States (we're not recommending it, for the record) and you go to Bush's website and click "donations" and you will find that, before you can give him money, you have to affirm:

"By clicking on this box I acknowledge that contributions from corporations and foreign nationals are prohibited."

Likewise, if you want to make a donation to the campaign of John Kerry in the United States (neither are we recommending this) go to Kerry's campaign website and click "contributions," and there you will have to affirm:

"I confirm that the following statements are true and accurate:

1. I am a United States citizen or a permanent resident alien...

Those who have violated these laws against foreign contributions have been prosecuted in the United States…

Fed agents back congressional probe of discrimination claims

The largest federal law enforcement association in the country has thrown its weight behind a call for a congressional inquiry into an alleged pattern of racial discrimination within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), which represents some 22,000 federal agents in 50 law enforcement agencies, has directed a letter to Congress in support of Ruben Gonzalez, a high-ranking supervisor within DHS' Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Houston. The letter, addressed to U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Texas, stresses that FLEOA “supports any and all efforts to eliminate bias and inequities in hiring and promotion processes by Federal law enforcement agencies.”

Gonzalez is a catalyst behind the growing chorus of Hispanic agents calling for congressional action on the issue. Gonzalez's attorney, Ron Schmidt, claims the racial discrimination within ICE is so pervasive that it has fostered a dysfunctional agency culture that poses a real threat to national security.

Investment research firm praises Chávez government

According to an interesting new economic report by the California-based investment research firm Condor Advisers, the Venezuelan government's restructuring of the country's state-owned oil company --Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA)-- is "dramatically increasing cash flow into Venezuela's economy, laying the foundation for sustained, robust economic growth."

Five "Secrets" of Online Journalism

My experience publishing Narco News over four years has taught me a lot about utilizing the Internet to do journalism.

The Internet is a young if already overpopulated frontier where there is a glut of material and a scarcity of quality, especially when it comes to journalism.

There are some very simple things we've done at Narco News differently than many others. I believe these ways of doing little, basic, things have a lot to do with our success.

The five "secrets" are:

  • 1. Respect the realities of email recipients
  • 2. Online etiquette from A to E-mail
  • 3. A website is an educational process ("No one story saves the world")
  • 4. Against Internet repetition and "copy cat publishing"
  • 5. On the Internet, speed is everything
It sometimes pains me to see other worthy projects making errors small and large that get in the way of their success and credibility. Since it's their show, I don't often volunteer advice: most people are fairly stuck in their ways of doing things, even when, sometimes especially when, those ways are counterproductive.

But since later this month the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism is meeting again, I'd like to share my general thoughts on how - and how not - to publish an online newspaper or journal...

Democracy in Venezuela

Wow! I never thought that in the more popular alternative press I would see an article that finally describes some of the truth about Venezuela, truth that I have learned mainly from the pages of NarcoNews.  This Fourth of July morning at, I read an article by Saul Landau, originally published in Progreso Weekly, extolling the policies of Hugo Chavez and calling to task not only the US and mainstream media for their parts in lying about Chavez and his policies, but also Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for their complicity in these lies.  Specifically, Landau points out a number of positive steps taken by Chavez, including the halting of private school subsidies for the rich, lowering the inflation rate, contributing more to health care and education, and stopping the privatization of social security and university funding.  He points out the lies perpetrated by the Venezuelan rich elitists and the US government that include censorship of the press, collaborating with FARC and ELN guerillas, and undermining the constitution and behaving in an anti-democratic manner.  The article ends by focusing on how the media and those that go along with such false reporting obscure issues and encourage confusion by misusing the true meanings of the words "democracy" and "human rights."  Truth in reporting - what a way to start my US Independence Day!  

Noriega wants crackdown on Argentine "piqueteros"

According to an Agence France Presse report from today, Roger Noriega --Bush's awful Ambassador to the OAS (I hear that Noriega doesn't even speak Spanish)-- is putting pressure on the Argentine government to crack down on the country's "piqueteros," the poor and unemployed picketers who have reportedly been blocking roads, occupying McDonald's restaurants and taking over the offices of multinational firms (God forbid!!).

Fortunately, the Argentine government no longer takes its orders from Washington; Argentina's Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa criticized Noriega's recent statements about the demonstrators, saying "In all honesty, the Argentine government is fed up with Mr. Noriega's meddling in Argentina's internal affairs."

Hispanic federal agents' claims finally find an ear in Congress

Ruben Gonzalez scored a major victory recently in his efforts to expose what he and other Hispanic federal agents describe as widespread discrimination within the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Gonzalez, an associate special agent in charge at the Houston ICE office, wrote recently to his senator and congressman seeking their help in addressing the discrimination problem within ICE and DHS in general. A group of Hispanic federal agents and their attorney, Ron Schmidt, contend the dysfunction and atmosphere of retaliation that is fostered by the discrimination pose a real threat to national security.

To date, Gonzalez’ senator, Republican John Cornyn, has opted to sit on the sidelines on the issue. Despite the national security concerns raised by the alleged pattern of discrimination, Cornyn says he has chosen to "refrain from intervening” due to Senate ethics rules that caution against getting involved in matters that are pending in the courts. Gonzalez is part of a group of Hispanic agents who have brought a class-action discrimination lawsuit against DHS.

In an ironic twist, Cornyn referred Gonzalez’ complaint to the agent’s superiors at DHS -- the same group Gonzalez is accusing of allowing the discrimination to fester. Timothy Haugh, the acting director for DHS’ Office of Congressional Affairs, replied to Cornyn by asserting that Gonzalez’ charges are without merit.

However, Gonzalez’ congressman, Nick Lampson, D-Texas, apparently operates under a different set of congressional ethics.

Venezuela's Private Media and Pollsters: An Echo Chamber that Would Make Goebbels Proud

More than a year ago, I received a somewhat angry message from an opponent of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez regarding an article that I wrote for Narco News criticizing the political partiality and methodological problems of Venezuela's two most cited pollsters (Can You Believe Venezuela's Pollsters?, January 22, 2003). A number of anti-Chavez critiques of my article, including one by Francisco Toro, were pasted below the message.

For those who are not familiar with Toro, he is a well-known anti-Chavez activist based in Caracas whom the New York Times once hired as a reporter, in violation of the Times' own claims to objective and disinterested reporting. Toro runs an anti-Chavez weblog called the Caracas Chronicles.

At the time that I received this angry message, I was preoccupied with other issues, so, if I recall correctly, I did not read the critique by Toro that followed the message. However, the recent agreement in Venezuela to move ahead with a recall referendum on Chavez's government, as well as the Venezuelan President's recent citations of my article on Radio Nacional de Venezuela, have re-sparked interest in the topic of the pollsters. Thus, I have decided to revisit one of Toro's criticisms in order to show just how vacuous the Venezuelan opposition's defense of their pollsters is. I will address Toro’s other "main" criticisms in future entries.

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