Archive for September, 2008

Bailout FAIL. Working Americans PWNED.

It seems as though Congress and the Bush administration are nearing approval of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package. It was clear from the get go that low- and middle-income people were not going to be the winners here, no matter the specifics of the package; some details that are coming out now about the current state of the deal are only confirming that prediction. From the Washington Post:

Democrats also made a number of concessions, abandoning demands that bankruptcy judges be empowered to modify home mortgages on primary residences for people in foreclosure. They also agreed not to dedicate a portion of any profits from the bailout program to an affordable housing fund that Republicans claimed would primarily assist social service organizations that support the Democratic Party, the official said.

The New York Times does report that the package “requires the government to use its new role as owner of distressed mortgage-backed securities to make more aggressive efforts to prevent home foreclosures,” but reaffirms that “some Democrats had sought to direct 20 percent of any such profits [from the governmental purchase of assets at prices lower than they may one day be worth] to help create affordable housing, but Republicans opposed that and demanded that all profits be returned to the Treasury.”

I don’t claim to be any expert on economics, but it seems to me that the benefit to normal working Americans (i.e. “Main Street”) will be quite limited. The whole rigmarole about taxpayers (hopefully) being repayed for the bailout through the government receiving equity stakes in rescued companies is cold comfort given that we can’t trust or expect the government to spend that recovered money on things that actually help improve the lives of low- and middle-income Americans, like education, health care, affordable housing, or welfare.

Well, I should be clear – corporate welfare is a-ok, as this entire bailout package demonstrates. But welfare for individuals and families who are just trying to survive? Nah, that kind of welfare doesn’t fly, nor does the affordable housing that might help rescue them from this collapsing housing market. So Wall Street screws working-class Americans with the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, which then backfires and contributes to Wall Street getting screwed, and then Wall Street are the only ones who can really count on being bailed out? Sounds like a big ol’ FAIL to me.

Cross-posted at Feministe

Healthy Transitions for Adolescent Girls: working session at the CGI

Panelists at the CGI Global Health working sessionYesterday I watched the live video feed of a Global Health working session at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. (The press can’t attend the actual working sessions, so we had to sit and watch from the press room.) A bit of background – at the CGI Annual Meetings, government, corporate, and NGO leaders get together to discuss major world issues and figure out ways to tackle them. Each day they break out into working sessions, each one devoted to one of this year’s four focus areas: Poverty Alleviation, Energy and Climate Change, Education, and Global Health. This particular Global Health working session was entitled “Healthy Transitions for Adolescent Girls,” which immediately jumped out at me as a topic of great interest, both personally and for folks at Feministe.

Continue reading ‘Healthy Transitions for Adolescent Girls: working session at the CGI’

Liveblogging Clinton Global Initiative: Bill Clinton & Bill Gates on Philanthropy

The two Bills: Clinton and GatesCheck out the live blogging with Professor Kim, Cheryl aka Jill Tubman of Jack and Jill Politics, Deanna Zandt, and Josh Levy of after the jump!

Continue reading ‘Liveblogging Clinton Global Initiative: Bill Clinton & Bill Gates on Philanthropy’

First day at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

This morning I woke up far earlier than usual (6AM!) to get up to the 8am press meeting at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. It’s been a really interesting, crazy time so far, starting from when I first arrived. When I came to Monday’s blogger meeting with Bill Clinton, I was surprised at how relaxed the security was for the meeting. Not so today. Getting into the Sheraton meant passing through the highest level of security I’ve ever experienced. This ranged from the no-tech to the highest of the high tech: manual bag search, walking through a sensor that detected the RFID inside of my press badge and instantly displayed my name and picture on a connected laptop, a metal detector, a handheld wand that could detect the RFID in my badge, AND some weird thing that seemed to take both normal pictures and x-ray type body scans. All to be expected given the number of world leaders, politicians, celebrities, and corporate leaders at the event, but still a bit unnerving. Past the doors, security has been pretty tight as well, with the press being carefully corralled and guided away from any mingling with the Important People.

I’ve spent most of my day in the press room with both bloggers and the more traditional media. These groups don’t mix that much. No matter, because it’s been fun to meet all of the other bloggers who are here and attach faces to names and the words they write. I do keep hoping that Amy Goodman or Juan Gonzalez will walk up into the press room, but I don’t think that’s too likely.

Panelists at the CGI Opening PlenaryDeanna and I liveblogged the Opening Plenary, which was chock full of celebrities, dignitaries, and noble ideas; check the record of the liveblogging for details. Afterwards, I attended the press conference with Lance Armstrong, where he announced the creation of the Livestrong Global Cancer Awareness Campaign as well as details his return to cycling, which he described as another way to raise international awareness of cancer: “While my intention is to train and compete as fiercely as I always have, this time I will gauge victory by how much progress woe make against cancer, a disease that will claim 8 million lives this year alone.”

Afterwards there was lunch (during which I was reminded that I like the idea of roast beef far more than I like the reality of roast beef), followed by the working sessions in which all of the bigwigs who are gathered here get down to business and try to come up with concrete ways to tackle issues of poverty, energy and climate change, education, and global health. I watched and listened to the live feed of the Global Health working session, the theme of which was “Healthy Transitions for Adolescent Girls.” The conversation and discussion that came afterward were fascinating, and I’ll be posting about it shortly. Then, a panel on philanthropy with Bill Clinton and Bill Gates (!), then home. Whew!

Cross-posted at Feministe

Update: U.S. Supreme Court stays the execution of Troy Anthony Davis

After scanning the news over and over again all day hoping for good news but fearing it wouldn’t come, late this afternoon I was relieved to read that the U.S. Supreme Court had granted Troy Anthony Davis a stay of execution. The stay came only hours before he was scheduled to be killed by the state of Georgia.

However, it’s not time to rejoice just yet. This is only a temporary stay until Monday, when the Court will decide whether to hear the case. If they decide not to – as they usually have in cases like these – then the stay is immediately terminated, meaning that Davis could be executed as early as next week.

I don’t know what action can be taken to try to convince the Supreme Court to do what is rational and right and at least agree to hear the case and the new evidence that casts more than a shadow of a doubt on Davis’ conviction, but if Amnesty International or Davis’ family and supporters put out any calls to action, I’ll be sure to post them here.

Meeting Bill Clinton

Me and Bill Clinton

(Note: details of the meeting follow my personal narrative!)

A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation to represent Feministe as a credentialed blogger at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, which kicks off today in NYC. I was psyched, a tad skeptical, and more than a tad nervous all at once. I’ve never been invited to participate in anything as A Blogger, much less something this high-profile. I tend to think of myself as a relatively little fish in the blogosea, and all sorts of self-doubt about whether I was really qualified for this or deserved it started running through my head.

All of this anxiety was amped up exponentially when I got the additional invite to participate in a blogger meeting with President Bill Clinton before the start of the CGI meeting. I responded to the invite right away, but then all that doubt flooded in I nearly wrote back and said never mind. I mean, really – was I good enough or important enough to deserve a spot?

But then I thought to my self, now hold up, Jack. These doubts were certainly due in part to the sorts of insecurities that everyone gets from time to time about their skills, and also due in part to some rational acknowledgment of the fact that, for sure, I haven’t busted ass posting or networking or engaging in the public discourse as much as some other folks out there, so I’m understandably gonna be smaller potatoes. But I think they were also fueled in no small part by internalization of the sort of dynamics that permeate the blogosphere as much as the rest of the world; dynamics of privilege and power that automatically lend higher degrees of traction, legitimacy, or “authority” (as Technocrati puts it) to certain voices than to others for reasons entirely apart from the quality and quantity of their thoughts and words. The kind of dynamics, for example, that led to a 2006 blogger meeting with Bill Clinton being all white (and that helped this year’s meeting be predominantly white, too.) [1] Internalization is all about oppressed people learning to help keep themselves down, so I checked myself and decided not to help out on that count.

There was also an entirely different set of misgivings: how would I reconcile my politics with this meeting? Continue reading ‘Meeting Bill Clinton’

ACTION ALERT: Amnesty International’s call to support Troy Davis

As I wrote last week, Troy Davis was denied clemency last week by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole and is scheduled to be executed on September 23, next Tuesday, despite the tremendous amount of doubt that surrounds his conviction. Besides the Board of Pardons and Parole, the only entity that can stop the execution is the US Supreme Court. However, Amnesty International sent out an action alert today that states that the Board of Pardons and Parole can still reconsider its decision:

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles gave no reason for its denial of Troy Davis’ clemency petition, yet Board members do have the authority to reconsider their decision. On July 16, 2007, the Board did stay Troy Davis’ execution, stating that it would “not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused” (emphasis added).

The failure of courts to hear the compelling evidence of innocence in this case means that massive doubts about Troy Davis’ guilt will remain unresolved.

Amnesty International is asking that people send emails and letters to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole urging that they reconsider their decision in the face of the considerable doubt cast upon Troy Davis’ guilt. Please take a few moments to do this; this may be one of the last chances that Troy Davis has to escape being murdered unjustly by the state.

SieteNueve to Daddy Yankee: “Quedate Callao!”

Y’all might’ve caught wind of how Daddy Yankee took a real pendejo turn in endorsing John McCain for president. That was an annoying “WTF?!?” moment for me, but not terribly heartbreaking; sure, I’ve enjoyed breaking it down on the dancefloor to “Gasolina” and “Rompe,” but I never really looked to Daddy Yankee for political fulfillment or anything like that. So I’m not going to shed any tears over this, though I am probably gonna take his songs out of my house party wannabe iTunes DJ lineup and maybe replace him with some Calle 13 or something (check out “Querido FBI” and “Pal’ Norte” for some of their politics.)

Well, today my friend and fellow blogger Cyborg Yoryie clued me in to an awesome response to Daddy Yankee, this from Puerto Rican rapper SieteNueve. Not only is this an awesome response politically, but it’s also a hot track and serves as my introduction to another awesome politically conscious Puerto Rican hip hop artist. You can download the track for free at SieteNueve’s MySpace page.

ETA: “Quedate Callao!” translates to “Stay quiet!” or “Stay shut up!” Here I’d like to think it translates more forcefully to STFU…

Update: Troy Davis denied clemency, faces execution on Sept 23

UPDATE: I am shocked, angered, disgusted and saddened to say that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole has denied Troy Davis clemency or commutation of his death sentence. (see here and here for articles). This, despite the fact that there was no physical evidence implicating him and seven of the nine witnesses who testified against him have recanted their testimony. This is horrifying. It is also crystal clear evidence for why the death penalty is an immoral and inhumane system that shouldn’t be allowed to continue. How could anyone argue that an ultimate, immutable punishment should ever be applied when you have such an abundance of reasonable doubt and such a dearth of credible evidence? And while this is an extraordinarily wrong case, we have to assume that there are many, many other instances of people being convicted, sentenced, and executed under similarly dubious, uncertain circumstances. It is unacceptable.

At this point, Davis’ only hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes. With our current Supreme Court, I worry for the chances of that happening; to make matters worse, the Court is currently recessed and may not even get around to hearing the case before Davis’ execution date, which is set for September 23 at 7pm. (end update)

Last July, I wrote asking people to call and demand clemency for Troy Davis, a man sentenced to death in Georgia. He was convicted in 1991 of murdering an off-duty police officer, but as I wrote last year, “the case against him was comprised entirely of witness testimony, which even at the time of the trial contained inconsistencies. Since the trial, seven out of nine of the non-police prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony.” (See my previous post for more details on the case.)

Davis was granted a stay of execution last July less than 24 hours before he was to be killed. However, as reports, “the Georgia Supreme Court and US Supreme Court have refused to hear new evidence in the case — ensuring that doubts about his guilt will always remain.” put out this call to action via email today:

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles is meeting today to decide Troy Davis’ fate. Can you call them right now and ask them to spare his life? Call (404) 651-6599 and tell them you are for clemency or commutation for Troy Davis because you don’t want Georgia to make the mistake of executing an innocent man.

Once you’ve called, please let us know by sending an email to Then, please pass this on to your friends and family–Troy Davis needs all the help he can get.

I made my call a little while ago; it takes only one or two minutes to tell them that you’re calling to ask for clemency or commutation of Davis’ sentence. Please try to spare a few minutes today to help save Davis from an unjust, inhumane death.