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“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

— Edith Wharton


Feb. 13-19, is National Random Acts of Kindness Week, an annual event designed to prompt Americans to give back to one another in simple but significant ways. We, of course, encourage you to participate, particularly because our GOOD 30-Day Challenge this month is to be a better citizen. But one man in Chicago says a single week of self-improvement through kindnes, or even a month, is too easy. That's why he's going for a full year. It all started in December 2011, when Ryan Garcia . . . read the full story



"The Invisible War" is a new documentary that exposes the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the U.S. military. On the heels of a new military survey that the number of reported violent sex crimes jumped 30% in 2011, with active-duty female soldiers ages 18 to 21 accounting for more than half of the of the victims, Democracy Now spoke with Trina McDonald and Kori Cioca, two subjects of "The Invisible War” which won the Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. "Not only was I astounded by the numbers, but when I started talking to the women and men who had experienced this, I was just so devastated by their stories," says the film’s Academy Award-nominated director, Kirby Dick. "These are women and men who are very idealistic. They joined the military because they wanted to serve their country. They were incredible soldiers. And then, when they were assaulted, they had the courage to come forward, even though many people advised them not to," Dick says. Read the full story.



Here is an overview of the uprising, in which the UN says more than 5,000 civilians have been killed by security forces and 14,000 others detained. The government says 2,000 members of the security forces have died.
The unrest began in the southern city of Deraa in March when locals gathered to demand the release of about 15 school children who were arrested and reportedly tortured after writing on a wall the well-known slogan of the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt: "The people want the downfall of the regime." The protesters also called for democracy and greater freedom, though not President Assad's resignation. (Full story here.)



For Aaron Swartz, sharing files on the Internet isn't just fun and profitable. It's existential. The 25-year-old programmer faces criminal charges that he hacked into MIT's computer system and downloaded 4.8 million journal articles with the intent of posting them online. He pleaded not guilty, but according to a manifesto he penned in 2008 it is precisely such acts of online civil disobedience that are needed to bring rampant Internet file sharing "into the light" and challenge "unjust laws."

Even before his arrest, Swartz was known for his contributions to the code that runs the Internet—as a teenager, he coauthored the RSS 1.0 specification, which organizes news feeds online. He also helped create the website Reddit, a site for sharing news, ideas, and photos that now logs two billion page views per month. (Full story here.)



We hold these truths to be self-evident: That the real, physical world is the source of our own lives, and the lives of others. A weakened planet is less capable of supporting life, human or otherwise.


Thus the health of the real world is primary, more important than any social or economic system, because all social or economic systems are dependent upon a living planet.


It is self-evident that to value a social system that harms the planet’s capacity to support life over life itself is to be out of touch with physical reality.


That any way of life based on the use of nonrenewable resources is by definition not sustainable.


That any way of life based on the hyper-exploitation of renewable resources is by definition not sustainable: if, for example, fewer salmon return every year, eventually there will be none. This means that for a way of life to be sustainable, it must not harm native communities: native prairies, native forests, native fisheries, and so on.  


Full Declaration From The Occupied Wall Street Journal.




Kudos go out to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who found California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution. It's a long-awaited and historic victory: LGBT Americans are again full and equal citizens of California!


The Proposition 8 battle in California was the most expensive, divisive and brutal ballot initiative in California history, pitting family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors against each other. In August 2010 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to take the case and heard oral argument in December 2010. The result of those arguments was released in the 9th Circuit Court opinion on February 7, 2012.
(Full story here.) 



"...displays of female power are not necessarily empowering for women. Rather, they often seem to point to our culture’s confused and ambivalent efforts to process and acknowledge significant social change (for instance, the mainstreaming of feminist ideals and messages such as that girls can do anything boys can) and to maintain the status quo." (From Katie Kanagawa's blog.) 


So I, obviously, haven’t seen the Hollywood film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling novel, The Hunger Games. But I would like to take this opportunity to express my affection for Collins’ trilogy and my fanatic excitement (and considerable wariness) regarding the upcoming film’s release. The Hunger Games are an annually televised competition where 12-18 year old girls and boys from twelve districts fight to be the last person left standing (or alive). When the lottery elects her younger sister to fight in the games, Katniss Everdeen steps forward and takes her place.
(Full story here.)



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