Saturday, August 31, 2013


Anthony De Rosa is an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. Today, he provided us with an important reminder of how it is still supposed to work in this country.


If you have thoughts about Syria and U.S. military action, please let Doris Matsui, our member of the House of Representatives, know as soon as possible.  Contact info here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ecuador Asked the World to Pay it Not to Drill for Oil. What was the World's Answer?

Time to check on the news from Ecuador.

Last year, our World Politics/Global Issues classes read of the estimated 840 million barrels of the oil under the Yasuni Rainforest National Park, one of the most pristine and biodiverse ecoystems in the world.   The oil under Yasuni represents an important revenue source in a country that despite marked achievements in quality of life still has nearly a quarter of its citizens living in deep poverty.   However, drilling in Yasuni raises obvious environmental concerns that trouble many Ecuadorians and people around the world.   In 2007,  Ecuador's President, Rafael Correa presented wealthy country donors with a bold proposal: pay Ecuador $3.6 billion and it would leave the Yasuni oil in the ground.

Now, nearly six years later, President Correa has his answer:  No.

In a televised address to the nation, President Correa announced the end of his Yasuni initiative, noting that "the world has failed us."  Oil exploration in the region is scheduled to begin within weeks.

The story is fascinating and important, with global implications stretching well beyond Ecuador.   Reading the articles at the links above are well worth your time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Say no to Test Culture

     Haven't we learned our lesson from all the terrible unintended consequences of the test culture created by No Child Left Behind?  Then why compound those mistakes by creating a new test culture under a new name, Common Core?

(Note from Ms. Jablonski) I asked Mr. Tagg to test how others may write blog posts here in anticipation of the new school year.  All my government students will be assigned blog posting/commenting as a class requirement (details will be provided in class).  Mr. Tagg's test post takes off from the letter he wrote to the Sacramento Bee, which was published yesterday. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Costa Rica to Close Zoos

We don't want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.

Don't miss this piece about the remarkable announcement from the Costa Rican government that it plans to close all zoos and relocate zoo animals to botanical gardens and urban parks to eliminate the practice of caged animals.  Described here is the guiding philosophy and the actions being taken by the government to ensure appropriate placement of those animals who have spent their lives in the controlled environment of zoos.

Let us watch and learn.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Checking in on the Security State

The Guardian newspaper last week published a timeline of events related to Edward Snowden, his release of National Security Agency files and his quest for political asylum.  The timeline is useful as it contains links to all major pieces published by the Guardian since Snowden leaked NSA documents to Guardian journalists.

After deciding to leak NSA documents revealing the reach of NSA surveillance, Snowden fled to Hong Kong then Russia seeking political refuge from United States government capture and prosecution.   This week, Snowden's attorney in Russia announced that the Russian government granted him temporary asylum.

Also this week, U.S. army soldier Bradley Manning was convicted in a U.S. military court of multiple violations of the U.S Espionage Act (see below) stemming from his 2010 leaking of Iraq and Afghan war logs and other classified disclosures to Wikileaks. He faces a maximum of 136 years in military prison, although he was cleared of the most serious charge against him, aiding the enemy.

An archive of Bradley Manning articles from the Guardian is available here.

Finally, for a brief but interesting overview of the U.S. Espionage Act, see this piece by Caitlin Dewey, the Washington Post's social media reporter, titled "Manning was charged under the Espionage Act. It doesn't have a proud history."

Hardest-Working Justice

USA Today has a nice piece on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Find it here.