Category Archives: Politics

Obama to give the “speech of his life?”

Obama speeking at the UN General Assembly 2009That’s what the folks at Oxfam and many in the development field are hoping for. But what would that look like?

Many here in New York at looking to Obama to throw some fuel on the fire and lead donor nations toward accountability and responsibility in the final push to reach the MDG’s by 2015. They want him to use his oratory skills to bring a level of urgency to the MDGs, and to explain how poverty affects us all – it undermines our global security, the global economy, and the protection of the rights that we as Americans enjoy. The hope is he will send a clear message to the public, but also to his own government.

Beyond that, most are looking for specifics:

  • how will the US step up and raise the game?
  • how will his admin make deliberate decisions and choices regarding aid?
  • how will the US be accountable?
  • how will US foreign policy (esp Iraq, Afghanistan) affect aid?

Those are some big questions and bigger expectations.  We’ll see on Wednesday….

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Got Water?

Bottle of Beau Pal water

Bottle of B'eau Pal water

Its summertime in Washington, DC, and although it has been a comparatively mild summer, it is still hot and humid enough to make you want to jump in the pool, or have a tall glass of crisp, cold water.

How about the latest in boutique bottled water, B’eau Pal?

Unlike other high end aqua refreshment, it’s source is not some glacial mountain in the Alps, or natural spring in the Adirondacks. No, this water comes straight to us from India.

Bhopal, India, to be exact. Site of the world’s largest industrial accident.

The B’eau Pal campaign is the latest from The Bhopal Medial Appeal and The Yes Men, in an effort to raise awareness about the incident and put further pressure on Dow Chemical to be held accountable.

The launch of this campaign coincides with the 25th anniversary of the accident, which has killed 20,000, and continues to kill at least one person a day.

The campaign features a beautiful red label and even includes a nutrition label, which indicates the drink has:

The campaign is clever, but not designed for mass distribution. Rather, the Yes Men had hoped to present the bottles to Dow Chemical executives earlier this month. However, word got out, and protesters found the Dow building completely empty. Had there been some kind of confrontation, perhaps there would have been more press, and consequently more awareness.

Unfortunately, all that’s left is a pretty bottle of poisoned water.

While I like the idea for the campaign, I can’t help feel like it is just there to make US feel better. Sure its witty. If the Dow folks had been there, we could really smirk. And hopefully the coverage would have raised some awareness and possible generated some funds.

But was there really hope that the campaign would change Dow’s mind about taking responsibility?

I’d like to know how the campaign measures success in this case? What’s the return on investment here?

Last day to register- would this convince you?

Since today is the last day to register to vote in many states (mine included), I thought I’d highlight some communication campaigns that have tried to encourage people to register.

The overwhelming majority of these campaigns are aimed at young people. Here are a few that I found interesting – do any of these make the case? Would they compel you to register?

Warning: The video below contains language that may be offensive to some.

This music video from Rock the Vote obviously leans left, so it may alienate would be registrants who don’t agree on certain social issues. But it is a catchy tune….

Any register to vote PSAs that you thought were interesting? effective?

(By the way, if you haven’t already, please REGISTER & VOTE!!!)

Samizdat

Yesterday we spent some time at the Open Society Institute Archives, studying their Samizdat collection.

Samizdat, which means “self-published” in Russian, was the underground literature that was illegally printed and distributed in Soviet Russia and other Soviet controlled countries, including Hungary.

As you can imagine it was incredibly dangerous, so the printers continued to come up with imaginative and ingenious ways of distribution. Here are a few photos from the collection:

Below is a tiny, full length book. This literature was illegal to have, so they printed it small enough to fit into you pocket, should the authorities come around.

Tiny Samizdat BookThe inside

We also looked through an extensive collection of letters and correspondence between samizdat authors and publisher and Radio Free Europe.

Handwritten letter to Radio Free Europe

Ever looking for ways to evade the authorities, some samizdat artists created postal stamps! These were used to mail letters, which was quite a smack in the face since it was the government (postal service) that actually delivered the letters, and inadvertently the rebel material!

Samizdat stampsTiny samizdat book

The Future of Emailing Congress

Computer with mailbox flagHave you emailed your congressional representative? Did you feel like it did any good?

Congressional offices are receiving hundreds of millions of emails every year, and the workload on staffers is enormous! As the number of emails has increased over the years, the staff size and technology budgets have not.

The Center for American Progress will be discussing this issue and posing some suggestions in it monthly Internet Advocacy Roundtable. As ususual, I’ll be live blogging!

You can follow along here!

Race and Politics- Live Blog from CAP

Due to the unprecedented nature of the 2008 election, communities of color are being actively sought after and their role and influence scrutinized by the media and political pundits. In an effort to add depth to the national conversation about the important role these communities are playing and will continue to play in ’08 and beyond, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is bringing together noted experts from the Asian American, Latino, Native American, and African American communities to discuss how these communities view this process, how they are working together to advance a common agenda, and about the role voters of color will play in November and beyond.

Click here to follow the live blog of this event.