Friday, April 30, 2010

PDiN Monitor, Volume 1, Issue 4: PD Publications

Check out the latest issue of PDiN Monitor brought to you by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The End of the Beginning...

Well, today was my last day of classes for my graduate career. In two weeks time, I will have a Master's of Public Diplomacy. I like to think my very last class had a fitting end - the discussion of global culture. Is there such thing? As Dr. Manuel Castells so eloquently put it, "well, yes and no". Global culture is not a homogeneous or monolithic creature - global culture is partly multiculturalism, partly cosmopolitanism and partly consumerism. The most profound part of this lecture for me, was that as people, we do not share a common global culture, however our global culture is that of sharing. So as I end my academic career and begin my life as a professional public diplomat, knowing that people around the globe do share a common culture - we all share. As I end one chapter of my life and start a new one, I am happy I can share with whomever is reading a little bit about my new journey and just snippets of the end of the beginning.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Israel, Israel, que bonitas Israel...

The Israeli Foreign Ministry does it again. They created a terrible-quality video in a feeble attempt to promote a positive image of Israel. This time, the target audience is the Spanish-speaking world of the Americas. I wish I knew more about the artists that they had performing in the video, the status they hold in various countries in the Americas and whether or not the Israeli MFA did their research on their audience before producing this type of campaign. Even if the artists draw large audiences, the poor quality of the video does not say much for Israel...

Enough words though, the video speaks for itself.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Leight the Fire

It's amazing how certain words, places, songs, smells, tastes and touches impact life in ways you could not expect. The latest surprise came in the form of a name, the name of my blog, Fire & Leight. It's creation was inspired by my friend Paul, but the words fire and light have had special meaning for me since my DC days...

"And I came here
Knowing no one
With nothing at all
But I'm here
Here for a reason
This is the reason
It is my call
So take a look at me
Try to understand me
Believe in me, this is what makes me happy - so
Light, light the fire" ~ by ADHD Rock

A song and words that bring up memories and emotions from a wonderful past and excitement for the future. Much love for friends, new and old...always believe in what makes you happy. 

Nature Diplomacy

This weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Pioneertown and Joshua Tree National Park. The weekend was incredible but that is neither here nor there, however, nature inspires. Seeing thousands or millions of stars in the sky without the glaring city lights makes the world look insignificant. The vast emptiness of the desert is beauty in nothingness. These natural wonders make people kinder and more open. From fellow hikers on the trail to fellow Pioneertown guests, people are just people. I think it would be a great PD initiative to bring all different types of people out into the desert or into deep forests and drop them off for a week with only each other, the essentials. A PD "Survivor" of sorts. I bet by the end of the week issues that were once significant in terms of national conflicts (or others) would become irrelevant and the light of people-hood would shine through.

*Originally Posted on February 15, 2010 at

Advocacy, Citizen Ambassadors & Public Diplomacy

I am a part of the Israel Diplomatic Fellowship program sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taglit-Birthright Next program. The Fellowship allowed me to go to Israel for pennies over the summer and experience from an "insiders" perspective a government sponsored PD initiative. It was eye opening to say the least.

I just returned from a meeting or reunion of sorts from this program whose mission is to make us "Ambassadors for Israel" to our respective communities. With this concept in mind, I'd like to share a quote that made me think about Daryl Copeland's concept of Guerrilla Diplomacy.

We want you to be "agents on the ground who know the environment" and are able to talk and connect with people in a way that government officials cannot. This program is a PD initiative to get U.S. citizens to become advocates/agents/ambassadors for Israel. The terminology "agents" reminds me of the talk Copeland gave at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy in the Fall 2009. He called for "Guerrilla diplomats" to seep into their environments and learn their surroundings and interact with the public in order to better assess the ability for the home government to conduct public diplomacy. His terminology as well as the quote above makes me wonder where the line is between public diplomats who know their audience and the world of special intelligence and Psy-Ops.

As public diplomats I think it is essential to know your audience and understand the public you are trying to reach, but I hesitate to use terminology that makes me think of the Mossad, CIA and James Bond. Where do countries draw the line between pushing their citizens to be public/citizen diplomats and pushing another country's citizens to be public diplomats?

*Originally posted on February 16, 2010 on

We Can Change the World

So I'm reading for my class with Manuel Castells on Globalization Theory and we're reading a chapter from from Jeff Juris' Networking Futures. He wrote the following:

"Activists are thus not only responding to growing poverty, inequality, and
environmental devastation; they are also generating social laboratories
for the production of alternative democratic values, discourses, and

I seriously think public diplomats and PD Corps are doing the same for diplomacy, at least that's the hope and dream.

I encourage everyone in the public diplomacy world to keep at it because we can change the world.

*Originally posted on February 23, 2010 at

Public Diplomacy: State v. Non-state

So it's my last semester in the Master of Public Diplomacy program at USC. I'm taking two classes this semester and I find it very interesting, one professor argues that only governments can conduct public diplomacy. Interestingly enough, my other professor posits that only nongovernmental actors can conduct public diplomacy. While they both are able to back up their claims I argue for a different path. I believe that both government and non-state actors can conduct public diplomacy. Hypothesizing that PD can be conducted by all international actors--we can begin to change how states and other actors in the global system can use the tools of public diplomacy to better international relations.

*Originally posted on February 24, 2010 at

Soap Opera Diplomacy

Most governments recognize the power of cultural diplomacy, from the Family of Man exhibit in the 50s during the Cold War to the food diplomacy of many different countries to your basic cultural exchange. However, the power of soap opera diplomacy has yet to be widely recognized or discussed. The first I heard of soap opera diplomacy was with the Colombian soap opera, Yo soy Betty, la fea (I am Betty, the Ugly) which ran from 1999 to 2001 in Colombia which was then adapted for the U.S. market into Ugly Betty which just aired its final episode after 4 seasons last week. Because of the popularity in both the US and Colombia, it was adapted again for a Mexican and Mexican-American audience into La Fea Mas Bella (The Most Beautiful Ugly) in 2006 through 2007. For those of you who don't know, the plot is that an "ugly" woman makes her way into the world of fashion and becomes successful through various transformations while getting more beautiful as time passes by. It would seem the premise most likely originated from the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale of the Ugly Duckling which is a great example of spreading ideas globally - from Holland to the rest of the world long before the age of the internet, television or radio.

Anyway, back to soap operas. So Ugly Betty was a great example of demonstrating through television the shared values in the Americas - but where else can television play a role in aiding U.S. (or any country's) public diplomacy? Well, I am a big advocate of FRIENDS diplomacy for the U.S. but what really sparked inspiration for this post was an article in FP sent my way from a good friend Andrea in Tel Aviv about a Turkish soap operas exported to the Middle East and dubbed into Syrian-Arabic. Basically, second-rate Turkish soap operas became extraordinarily popular throughout the Arabic speaking Middle East because:

"The idea of watching Muslim men and woman who share the same values and cultural background with their
brethren in the Middle East is a very appealing one because it raises taboo subjects and challenges conservative values by someone from within, as opposed to an outsider." - Nadia Bilbassy-Charters

Bilbassy-Charters continued to explain in her article that Turkey, partly because of these popular soaps, has gained more credibility in the eyes of the Arab publics. She argues that public diplomacy can be a successful strategy to help repair and grow the relationships between the U.S. and the Middle East if done correctly. An argument that I fully support. Demonstrating shared values is just one aspect of a successful PD strategy. While soap opera diplomacy would probably not work from the U.S. to the Middle East, we still need to find "out-of-the-box" ways to related to, understand from, and share values, ideas, words and images with the Arab publics while focusing on listening and learning from each other and different examples of successful public diplomacy. Maybe, the U.S. government should brainstorm with some of our best cultural exporters out here in Hollywood, but it has to be authentic - not contrived but something real - I know it's a lot to hope for and very complex but fictional television captures the imaginations, hearts and minds of its viewers because of the people in the stories and their lives. We can't forget that people relating to people can make a big impact - real or imagined.

*Originally Posted on April 18, 2010 at

Notes from the Past - Middle Eastern Salad

So I'm bringing an Israeli Salad to dinner tonight with some friends, and Phil asked what was in it. Here are the ingredients:

Olive Oil
Lemon Juice

I then proceeded to comment on how I've also eaten the same salad from many different Middle Eastern countries. I've had Turkish Salad, Omani Salad, Lebanese Salad, etc. You get the picture. It is, for all intensive purposes, a truly Middle Eastern salad.

Phil then suggested that this salad could be the "cornerstone for building peace". In my jaded experiences with peace in the Middle East, I began to rant (typical, right):

Or the salad could be another excuse for making war.
"You stole my salad! No you stole my salad! It was my salad first! No, it was my salad first! We were here before you, no we were here before you, oh yea, well we lived here longer, oh yea, but God said it was ours first..."

I think you see my point. Phil then said that this outlook was pretty sad and that the Middle Eastern countries should take a lesson from the different parts of the salad and live together in harmony in one crunchy goodness. And it made me think for a minute - shouldn't the Middle Eastern countries unite in peace with what makes them similar instead of what tears them apart? How can so many people who have the same origins, believe systems, God and same "father" only focus on what makes them different which causes hatred and bloodshed? Why not unite in what brings them together? The Middle Eastern Salad - which ever country you want it to come from, it doesn't taste right unless it contains all of the necessary ingredients.

Welll, to continue with this analogy, the Middle East won't taste good or function properly as a region until all of the ingredients except each other as sovereign nations and bind together as one crunchy goodness of an amazing region of the world. The Middle Eastern Salad won't taste right if there is no tomato or olive oil. Well, imagine the Middle East without the state of Israel or the future country of Palestine? It wouldn't taste right.

I wish we could all take a step back from our different beliefs and see the Middle East with new eyes. Look at the region as a whole, not as separate parts. Give each nation the sovereignty they deserve, then take all of those nations and see them as the Middle East. Each nation plays a specific role in the salad and if one is missing, it just won't taste the same. If we want peace to happen in the Middle East and stability throughout the region, we need each to play its part in the crunchy goodness of the Middle Eastern Salad.

If we could change the names of the Israel, Turkish, Omani, Lebanese Salad into the Salam-Shalom Salad…maybe then we’d get somewhere.

...And I know that everyone can come together over some good food...

Notes from the Past - Egypt

As this is my first official blog, I'd like to share some posts I previous wrote in other places. It's amazing looking back on my past in this way, perspectives and experiences make all the difference.

October 14, 2007 - My Journey to Egypt

September 26 – October 5, 2007

So my co-intern and friend, Carolina and I decided to go to Egypt for Sukkot break (Sukkot is an 8 day Jewish holiday (around harvest season) so sadly, I didn’t experience it in Israel and ironically, went to Egypt instead [some of you will understand that, others won’t – I won’t bore you with the rest]) and conveniently, my work had off for 12 days so we had to go travel! So in short (for those of you who don’t want to continue reading) we started in Tel Aviv, took a bus down to Eilat (south Israel on the Red Sea), stayed for a night, crossed into Egypt at Taba, went to Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Aswan and Luxor. We saw the amazing Pyramids, temples, tombs, hieroglyphs, statues, sarcophagi, and met incredible people. The atmosphere of Egypt is indescribable, the people are warm and friendly and the relics of ancient Egypt are incomparable to any place I’ve ever been in my life. I couldn’t have planned a better trip if I tried. I came back with a cold (clearly, because we didn’t sleep) but it was just awesome. If you ever get the chance to go to Egypt, take it, because you won’t be disappointed.

Being back in Israel though really does feel like home. We walked through the border from Taba to Eilat around 7 am on a Thursday morning and as soon as we got through I felt relieved, it was like being home again. We were also ready for our day on the beach at the Red Sea to finish up our vacation. We also then spent Saturday at the beach in Tel Aviv so more relaxing to recover from our insane trip.

So that was my trip in short. I’m still loving living in Israel and I start Ulpan (intensive Hebrew classes) tonight so my days will be packed but I’m excited to meet new people and finally start speaking in Hebrew again!

Now for the “Naomi” version of the Egypt trip. So we went down to Eilat and stayed with a friend of Carolina’s friend. They were great and now we’ve got friends in Eilat. We go to Taba around 12:00 on Thursday the 27th and we wanted to go straight to Alexandria (Alex for short) but the Bedouin wanted to charge us $200USD to drive us there and that we were not spending. So we changed our plans and took a shared van to Cairo with three American kids who are studying at Ben Gurion University. That was a fun ride (the driver was crazy). We got into Cairo around 7pm in the evening and didn’t really know what to do then because we hadn’t planned on being in Cairo that night. So we went and found a hotel, and one of the hotel staff took us to eat dinner. Then he took us to a cool flower oil shop where they make all the bases for popular perfumes (like Donna Karen, Christian Dior, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, etc). It was awesome. We got to smell the bases for all of these different perfumes and it was really great. We drank tea and had a great time. Then we went to a concert at the Opera House in Cairo (outside). It was a concert of the most popular musician in all of Egypt. His name is Muhammed Monir and they call him “the King” (like Elvis). So that was really fun but we were exhausted so we left at like 2am to go back to our hotel to go to sleep. We then got up the next morning and took a train to Alex.

So we got to Alex and a friend of ours picked us up at the train station. He took us to the apartment we stayed in outside of Alex so we could relax. We walked around, went to the beach, just chilled out until after break fast (it’s Ramadan right now so everyone doesn’t eat all day and then they break fast with their families at 6pm). Then we went and walked around Alex at night which is beautiful. We went to a very “American” style café/restaurant and just hung out until about 2am and then we went back to our apt. to sleep. The next day we went to see the Qaitbay Citadel which gave us an incredible view of the Port/Bay at Alex (it’s on the Mediterranean!!). We then went to the Pompee Column which is a big column with sphinx’s in Alex and then we followed that up by going to the Catacombs which were fun. It was ancient Egyptian style mixed with Greco-Roman. That is because Alex the Great (hence the name Alexandria) conquered Egypt in 321 B.C.E (Before the Common Era [B.C.]). We then went to see the Alexandria Library which is beautiful but we didn’t go inside because it was closed. We also went to a gorgeous Mosque. Then we went to our friends’ house for break fast. His mom made the best food. It was incredible. Egyptians are so warm and friendly and welcoming. We were invited back by our friends’ mom to stay for as long as we like. It was great. So then we left Alex around 7:30pm that night (Saturday the 29th) to go to Cairo to begin our tour of Cairo, Aswan and Luxor. On the van ride we took from Alex to Cairo we met a really nice girl named Nancy who is studying medicine at the Cairo University. She’s 20 and she’d never met “Western” girls before. It was also the first time she used the English conversationally. She studied English in school but they never spoke it. She spoke really well and wanted to know if America really is like what the movies depict it to be. I told her it was to an extent but that the movies exaggerate a lot of things. We spoke with her about life as a young observant Muslim woman living in Cairo. She lives by herself in an apartment (which is rare) and she doesn’t want to get married anytime soon. She wants to pursue her career first and is following her goals. So we were very impressed because generally young adults, especially women, don’t live away from home without family.

Egypt is definitely a very observant and conservative country however as an individual you can observe Islam or whatever religion you practice freely. About 80% of the population in Egypt is Muslim and 20% is Christian. There are apparently still a handful of Jewish families living in the Coptic Christian quarter of Cairo. Oh side note, Carolina and I did not mention that we are Jewish or that we are living in Israel or that we’re working at the Institute for National Security Studies. That would not have gone over well with anyone we encountered. We learned that Egyptians HATE Israel. I never realized how much until I got there. But it was interesting to hear all the craziness that they believed. For example, they truly think that Israel wants to make war with them even though there is a peace treaty. They also think that Hertzel (the founder of Zionism [the belief that the Jewish people should have a modern nation-state of our own]) orchestrated the Holocaust. So that was interesting. I had to play really dumb when speaking about Israel there – it was definitely EXTREMELY hard to do (esp. knowing me). But I managed. But we didn’t encounter anti-Semitism, just the hatred of Israel, not the Jewish people. Our friends now know that we are Jewish and living in Israel (the ones we made in Alex) and so far we think they’re cool with it – they haven’t mentioned anything to us yet – so we still have to wait and see. Also hiding who I truly am in Egypt was a little sad because we did have such an amazing experience with the people we met there.

Ok, anyway. So now I’m onto Cairo and Giza. The Egyptian Museum was incredible. We could have stayed there all day except that it was the most crowded museum I’ve ever been to. Think the Air and Space Smithsonian Museum on a national holiday times 10. Or Disney World times 10. Pretty intense. Apparently there are 8 million visitors every year and it’s the worst during the Christmas season. The best part of the Egyptian Museum was seeing all of the treasure and gold that they found in King Tut’s tomb. It filled halls upon halls and King Tut’s tomb was thrown together during the 70 mummification process because he was only 17 when he died and it was unexpected so they didn’t have as much things to bury with him. All of the other tombs that have been uncovered in Egypt are empty. If they weren’t empty it would have been insane because the Museum was already packed with artifacts. So that was pretty awesome. We saw the classic mask of King Tut. We learned about the symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt. It was quite confusing. So here is how it works. Upper Egypt on the map is the south of the country because it’s where the Nile begins. There the symbol is the Lotus flower. Lower Egypt is the Nile Delta and the northern part of the country on the map because the Nile flows out to the Mediterranean there and the symbol is the Papyrus plant which only grows in the Nile Delta and what the first paper was made out of. Then we went to Giza where the Pyramids are. They were magnificent. Incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring. I went into the tomb in one of the Pyramids (I forget the names of the Kings right now) and it was crazy going inside. I had to walk down this ramp of stairs (like a gang plank – getting off a boat type stairs) bent at the waist because you couldn’t stand up straight at all. It was very hot and damp inside the pyramid and empty. So it really wasn’t that impressive but I’ve been inside a Pyramid, so that’s just cool. We then did a quick drive by of the Sphinx (because everything closes early during Ramadan). We also went to another Citadel which was also beautiful (but couldn’t go in because it was already closed). We also went to a papyrus shop which was very cool and we were shown how they make papyrus paper. It was fun.

We were then dropped off at the Khan el Khalili market in Cairo. Think the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul or a really crazy big market where people try to sell you anything and everything. It was fun. Everyone thought I was Spanish (from Spain) for some reason. I found it highly amusing.

Another side note – our tour company thought we were Israeli citizens and apparently all Israeli citizens have to have a security guard from the ministry of tourism in Cairo – so we had a body guard when we were in Cairo on the 30th. That was amusing. We thought he had left when we got dropped off at the Bazaar but we ended up wandering up these stairs to look for an internet café (which was closed) but when we came back down the stairs, there was our security guard freaking out about where we had gone! It was SOOOOOO hysterical, we started laughing and made him come drink some Turkish coffee with us even though he didn’t speak any English.

Oh and I learned how to count to 10 in Arabic (very similar to Hebrew) and to say “thank you”, “no thank you” and “it’s all good”. I also learned a few curse words, but those aren’t appropriate to discuss.

So after the Bazaar we took a night train to Aswan. It was supposed to take 12 hours – it took us 14. It was freezing cold and the bathrooms were unusable (hello third world country). So that sucked. So our tour wanted us to not take showers or brush our teeth or change our clothes when we got in and we hadn’t eaten anything in about 20 hours so we were having none of that. So we were demanding and got ourselves to a hotel that had a bathroom we could use and food to give us so then we were human again in Aswan. We also had them push our train ticket back that night because they thought we’d be ok with traveling 14 hours to spend 4 hours in Aswan. Not so much. So we got what we wanted because we’re awesome like that.

Anyway, so we went to some beautiful Temple in Aswan. I don’t remember what it was called right now but I’ll figure that out eventually. Oh and there are NO crocodiles because of the Aswan damn. We saw the damn. It’s big. It helps to form Lake Nasser. We also went to shop where they make stuff out of Alabaster and other cool stones/rocks/gems.

We also went on a felucca ride (which is a sale boat) on the Nile and walked around Aswan. So it was definitely awesome. We then took a 3 hour train ride to Luxor.

So we started our tour the next day in Luxor at 8 am (sooo early). We went to the Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Hatshepsut’s Temple (the only woman Queen/King of Egypt) and the Valley of the Kings. Hatshepsut’s Temple was phenomenal. It definitely beats the Pyramids. So does the Valley of the Kings. So do Luxor and Karnak Temples come to think of it. The hieroglyphs were so impressive it was incredible. The paint they use still remains on the tombs that are 3,000 years old!!! The Valley of the Kings is where there are 62 tombs of Pharoh’s. Absolutely unbelievable. Also at Karnak Temple there were 3 obelisks. The tallest one in the world (unbelievable), a broken one and the third is in Istanbul (Club Med – we saw it, remember?)!! The hieroglyphs at Karnak were so big, it was unbelievable. But some dumb French archaeologist in the 1920s thought it would be smart to clean the temple – so he damned up an area of the Nile and forced water through the temple, which CLEARLY destroyed a lot of the artifacts and structure there. There was also a lucky scarab that we walked around at the temple. It was funny – the tour guide was showing it to us and there were all these people walking around it. And she asks, what are those people doing? And I replied, “they’re walking around the scarab 7 times for good luck”. I was half-joking, half being serious and she goes – well, you’re pretty much right. So apparently if you walk around the scarab 3 times, you will get married, four times you get good health and five times you have children (or something like that) but if you walk around it at total of 7 times, you get all of those things, so you’re covered. Oh also, the scarab symbolizes the god Ra, the sun god (as does the sun). So Luxor was just amazing with all of the temples and tombs. The Nile is so gorgeous there too.

So that was pretty much Luxor and then we took a train that night back to Cairo (another 12 hours). We got in at like 6 am and got dropped off at another friends’ apartment at 7am. We were able to take showers and leave our stuff there while we wandered around the rich part of Cairo and had an amazingly delicious lunch at a 5 star restaurant. You’ll never believe how much the entire meal cost, we had an appetizer, 2 liter bottle of water and two entrées all for a total of $20USD. Crazy right?

Then we went into Old Cairo via the Metro of Cairo. We rode in the women’s car. It’s the first car at the front of the train and we were told to ride in it to be ‘safe’. What I mean by that is not get harassed by men because we’re not dressed properly and clearly Western. Old Cairo is beautiful. It’s got all of the Coptic churches and even an old synagogue. We just wandered around for a little bit – we were extremely tired though so we took it easy. We then just strolled around Cairo some more. In the evening, our friend picked us up and we went back to his office to see a documentary he produced on the poverty in Cairo. It was very moving. The poverty is so extreme – many families only receive about 150 Egyptian Pounds a month – which is about $20USD. It’s nothing. They don’t have running water or electricity and many live in old buildings and on the street. We however didn’t see any of this where we were. So it was a really nice reality check and very moving. Then it was time to head to the bus station to go back to Taba. That was pretty much a miserable bus ride back through the Sinai at night. It took us 7 hours to reach Taba and we arrived in Eilat at around 6:30 am. We crossed the border and spent the rest of the day at the beach. Swimming in the Red Sea is gorgeous – all of the beautiful fish just swim around you. I can’t wait to go back in a few weeks to go snorkeling! So the next day we had to get onto another bus – and we got back to Tel Aviv Friday evening and crashed at my place. Carolina stayed with me because the buses don’t run on Shabbat (the Sabbath/Saturday) and taxi’s are very expensive as well. So the next day we just went to the beach in Tel Aviv and hung out relaxing and recovering from our trip.

So that’s my story. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I feel like I’ve grown and learned so much in such a short period of time.

American Beauty

While living in LA is not my favorite, I've realized that there is so much beauty on the West Coast that I did not know existed. This weekend I drove with a friend just 120 miles outside Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park. It is a breath-taking and spectacular site. Just this thought has given me a renewed desire to see more of my country of birth and that I do not have to fly over oceans and mountains to different continents to find the natural wonders that make me so clear-headed, happy and appreciative of life.

We spent the day amongst the Joshua Trees. Encountered a few blue-bellied black lizards that loved me a little too much. We had a picnic under the tree of life and a siesta under a stone shelter. Wandered over to Keys View to see the San Andreas Fault line and the leftover pollution from the city settle into a white misty haze in the Coachella Valley. The San Jacinto Mountain Peak was glimmering with faint snow caps in the distance.

A day in the desert has left me refreshed and relaxed and that feeling will have to hold me steady through the last three weeks of my graduate degree. 

The Environment: Quakes, Clerics and Cleavage

This weekend, while hiking about Joshua Tree National Park, the state of the Earth was on my mind. The beauty in nature will do that to is a political spin on the environment.

A week ago, the Associated Press reported that "A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes." In response, a woman at Purdue University started a Facebook Page inviting women worldwide to "Help fight supernatural thinking and the oppression of women, just by showing your cleavage!". According to a report in the Examiner (another Examiner article) more than 150,000 women will attend the BoobQuake event by wearing revealing clothing. The Boobquake event which will occur on Monday, April 26th to:

"encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake.”

While I don't plan to wear a cleavage baring shirt to work tomorrow, I do support the idea of activism to demonstrate that leaders - religious, secular, political or academic - words should not be taken at face value. Sometimes, the best way to challenge leadership is to respond with a satirical demonstration. Boobquake illustrates the hypocrisy espoused by a specific type of leadership.

While scantily clad women are not the cause of natural disasters, people are responsible for the extinction of incredible animal species, pollution, etc etc. So in keeping with Earth awareness week (as it was Earth Day on the 22nd), we move on to climate change.

I happened upon Fox News on Saturday morning during a discussion of a climate change awareness and activism project Inconvenient Youth. This project was started by an American teen and then supported by former VP and Nobelaureate Al Gore, which encourages teenagers to share their ideas and action plans to help solve the climate crisis. This is the type of bottom up/top down activism that should be encouraged by people of all different political stripes. However, Fox News tries to scare viewers into thinking Al Gore is trying to brainwash their children and spend tax dollars on useless environmental programs. Absurd, to keep with the activism theme, I think it's time we have a public demonstration against the idiocy that is Fox News...oh wait, we do...thank you Jon Stewart...