Tag Archives: Activism

Title VI and Fulbrights

I just got back from Ecuador through FLAS funding, which is directly impacted by this…  The subject was most definitely on everyone’s mind while at the field school, both professors and students.  This article clearly lays out why Title VI and Fulbright funding is so important for the US.  While I believe that the reasons for understanding other languages and other cultures go far beyond our questions of economic competitive capacity in a global market, or even questions of national security, these are two very real, immediate, and pragmatic concerns for why these programs need to be protected and funded.  As the article points out, this budget is less than two-tenths of one percent of the federal budget, counted, when fully funded, at just below $40 million.  That’s virtually nothing compared to many other programs.  Cutting the Title VI budget in half harms not only those of us who are engaged with programs funded by this money, but turns a blind eye to lessons so clearly learned post 9/11 about the need for intercultural communicability.

Article on Forbes: http://blogs.forbes.com/michaelnoer/2011/08/03/top-colleges-altschuler-litwin/

Global Commission Report – Ending the Drug War

The Global Commission on Drug Policy put out its report not long ago, and having read through much of the report, I was very happy with a great deal of what they’ve put forward.  Though I could quote many sections at length as being heartening to read, I think this really gets to the heart of it: “Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime. Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience with fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights – and adopt appropriate criteria for their evaluation.”  Really excellent stuff.  USA Today has a short writeup here, though the full reports and commission links above provide more detailed information.

Avaaz.org and Ending the War on Drugs

Avaaz.org has a new campaign running.  Though internet petition signing is notoriously questionable insofar as effecting policy change is concerned, I agree with what they’re doing.  I’m copying in their “letter to forward to friends” below.  I don’t want to blow up anyone’s inbox, but posting it here seems like a worthwhile middleground between bothersome and silent.

Their letter:

In days we could finally see the beginning of the end of the ‘war on drugs’. This decades long and hugely expensive policy has completely failed to curb the plague of drug addiction, while costing countless lives, devastating communities, and funneling trillions of dollars into violent organized crime networks.

Drug policy experts agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, but politicians are afraid to touch the issue. In days, a UN panel of global leaders including billionaire Richard Branson, and five current and former heads of State, will break the taboo and publicly call for a move towards decriminalization and regulation of drugs, delivering a major new report to the UN Secretary General.

This could be a once-in-a-generation tipping-point moment — if enough of us call for an end to this madness. Politicians say they understand that the war on drugs has failed, but claim the public isn’t ready for an alternative. Let’s show them a sane and humane policy is not taboo. Click below to sign the petition — it will be delivered by the Commission to the UN Secretary General and global leaders in New York:


Current drug policies are failing everyone, everywhere but public debate is stuck in the mud of fear and misinformation. As thousands of journalists, policy experts, and social scientists have documented, the current approach — deploy militaries and police to burn drug farms, hunt down traffickers, and imprison dealers and addicts – has been an expensive mistake. And with massive human cost — from Afghanistan, to Mexico, to the USA the illegal drug trade is destroying countries around the world, while addiction, overdose deaths, and HIV/AIDS infections continue to rise.

Meanwhile, countries with less-harsh enforcement — like Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Australia — have not seen the explosion in drug use that proponents of the drug war have darkly predicted. Instead, they have seen significant reductions in drug-related crime, addiction and deaths, and are able to focus squarely on dismantling criminal empires.

Powerful lobbies still stand in the way of change, including military, law enforcement, and prison departments whose budgets are at stake. And politicians fear that voters will throw them out of office if they even mention alternative approaches, as they will appear ‘soft on drugs’, weak on law and order, or pro drug use. But polls show that citizens across the world know the current approach is a catastrophe. And momentum is gathering towards new improved policies, particularly in regions that are ravaged by the drug trade.

If we can create a worldwide outcry now to support the bold calls of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, we can overpower the stale excuses for the status quo. Our voices hold the key to change — Sign the petition and spread the word:


We have a chance to enter the closing chapter of this brutal ‘war’ that has brought destroyed millions of lives. It is time to join forces and end this disgraceful policy that affects us all. Global public opinion will determine if there is change. Let’s rally urgently to push our hesitating leaders from doubt and fear, over the edge, and into reason.

With hope and determination,

Alice, Laura, Ricken, Maria Paz, Shibayan and the whole Avaaz team


Reports that show the war on drugs has failed:


Reports that show alternative approaches of decriminalisation and regulation are working:


War on drugs ‘cannot be won’, officers claim


5 Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results


The Global Comission on Drug Policy that will call on the UN to end the war on drugs


Drug War by the Numbers


Final Report of the Latin American Comission on Drugs and Democracy


Medical Marijuana Policy

Though this blog is not in general dedicated to monitoring or reporting on the constant back and forth over marijuana from a policy standpoint, I stumbled across this link earlier today, and thought it merited a note.  Decriminalization is something I am personally in full support of, for most, if not all, psychoactive substances.  Criminal prosecution for the possession and use of psychoactive substances is, to my mind, never the answer.  In cases of abuse (say of opiates or powerful amphetamines), education, treatment, and rehabilitation are far better answers than a jail cell.  And as far as marijuana is concerned, the demonstrable harms are so few compared to other intoxicants (re: alcohol), that its continued status as a restricted substance is ludicrous.  I was very happy when Obama and Holder both said that they would respect state laws passed for medical marijuana, and I would like to see the administration stick to those promises.  The link, again, is here.

Stop the Belo Monte Monster Dam

Repost from an email, but I signed this petition.  Anyone who’s willing, it’s definitely a worthy cause:

I just signed a petition to the Brazilian government to stop the construction of the Belo Monte Monster Dam complex in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. If built, it will be the third largest dam in the world. It will flood 668 km2 of Amazon rainforest, causing irreversible harm, including the displacement of more than 20,000 people who stand to lose everything – their homes, their livelihood, and the river that sustains them. Additionally, the dam will exacerbate global climate change.

Join me and sign the petition to stop the Belo Monte Monster Dam and help defend the rainforest and its people!

The Brazilian government has an opportunity to demonstrate global leadership in protecting the Amazon, its people and the global climate instead of continuing on a path of dirty and destructive development. Please join me in the battle to stop the Belo Monte Monster Dam and defend a real Pandora on Earth.

NOTE: We will be asking James Cameron, Director of Avatar, and Brazilian artists to join the Kayapo, Juruna, Arara and other affected communities to personally deliver these petition signatures to the key Brazilian government officials this fall.

Add your voice and sign the petition!

Thank You!