March 2007

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Last month I finally found my “dream island” on Second Life – a place which I’d really like very much to live in or (okay, let’s be realistic) to spend many hours each day. It took me some time to mention of it on my blog, since (well, you know very well in fact) I don’t have much free time nowadays and updating a blog can be a burden in such times. Anyway, without a long introductory paragraph, I’d like to cut it short: If you are into the wonderful world of “podcasting” and are also a Second Life resident, you must visit Podcast Island. Go there and as soon as you step on the landing point, you’ll clearly understand what I mean. I bet you’ll spend long hours there on your first trip and won’t even think of leaving there to go elsewhere. This is what I call “falling in love with an island” in SL.

Podcast Island is the home of – a web site which is definitely very familiar for podcasters and podcast listeners alike, as well as all “free radio” fans. The builders of this excellent website, Gary Leland (a.k.a Podcast Pickle in SL) and his colleagues, created this wonderful place as a home for podcasters in Second Life. Among those, I must mention Itazura Radio (his SL name) who is the builder of the most things you see on the island, and of course, the island’s great guide Chugabug Goodnight and her partner Radar Masukami (both SL names) as well as Keeme Brown, who runs the great night club “The Zoo” there.

Podcast Island Team

I am not going to tell about “what is podcasting” or something like that, because 1) It is a whole big world which cannot be fitted in the limits of a blog 2) And if you are reading this review, chances are you know about podcasting much more than myself. So I just want to humbly introduce this awesome island of the podcast world to you, if you have never been there or never heard of it.


Vic with Clipmarks shirt

You probably have already known: Clipmarks now offers very cool, brand new t-shirts to its users. They come in two colors, black and white – and the shirts have four different designs. As you can see from the comments at the website, Clipmarks community warmly welcomed the new shirts and looks like these cool things will sell very well in a very short time. So if you are a Clipmarks user, go and buy the t-shirts you liked, wear them and spread the word.

While giving your buying orders for the “real” shirts, you can also have the “virtual” ones to wear at Second Life for free and do a favor to your avatars. Again, as some of you have already known, I made some Clipmarks t-shirts four months ago and placed the package at popular freebie places at Second Life, as a free giveaway. By now, more than one thousand people got that shirts package.

But now, forget those old stuff. I prepared a new package that has the virtual versions of the brand new Clipmarks shirts and put them in my main stores at Forest Plaza and Hidden River Mall. There are two colors, black and white, of the classic design – front side has the Clipmarks logo and back side there is “Clip the web” motto. Almost identical with the real ones, so you can make your avatar wear them and spread the word in the metaverse too.

Clipmarks Freebie Pack

The package has two shirts; one black, one white and you’ll also get a steamy Clipmarks coffee mug too. For SL folks who don’t know about Clipmarks yet, there is also a notecard with a short version of “Clipmarks FAQ”. Finally after getting your freebie packs from one of my stores, you may also consider to join the “Clipmarks Users Group” in Second Life. Just make a search under the “groups” tab with the keyword “Clipmarks”.

Update – August 28, 2007: I closed my shops at Forest Plaza and Hidden River Mall. If you want to get your Clipmarks t-shirts and mug, visit Esperanza Mainstore at Elmaer region.

Tomorrow is March 8, International Women’s Day… Nasrin Alevi writes about the situation of women in Iran; a country under the oppression of a theocratical administration and ruled by the law that was supposed to be advised by one of the three male-oriented, oppressive Abrahamic religions. While celebrating the solidarity day of women all around the world and sincerely supporting their causes, I am quoting Alevi’s first two paragraphs below, with no comments.

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Iranians are the first to know how easy it is for a whole nation to be reduced to the rants of a senseless politician, or for images of a handful of shroud-wearing crazies burning the American flag in Tehran to reach the western media’s front-pages. But how easy is it for thousands of Iranian teachers protesting outside the Iranian majlis (parliament) – as they did on Saturday 3 March 2007 – to merit any attention?

Not very, is the answer – and especially when the drums of war are being sounded. At such times, it is more convenient to dehumanize the prospective enemy than to see this enemy as it is – composed not of 70 million Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clones but of diligent nurses, factory workers, dear uncles and aunts, poets, writers, filmmakers, students cramming for their exams, lovelorn teenagers, and, yes, protesting teachers.

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Amy Goodman interviews the writers of a stunning report about the “unseen aspects” of the Iraq war: Theocracy and gender-based violence against women.

Houzan Mahmoud, International Representative, Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. She is speaking about gender-based violence in Iraq before the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN today.

Yifat Susskind, communications director of MADRE. She is speaking about gender-based violence in Iraq before the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN today.

See the introduction below and read the entire transcript of the interview at Democracy Now! website. Don’t miss it.

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‚ÄúPromising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq.” That’s the title of the ground breaking report being released today at the UN.
The announcement follows on the heels of two high-profile cases of Sunni women allegedly raped by Shiite security forces last month.
The report documents the systematic use of violence committed by Islamist militias against Iraqi women. Methods of violence include widespread honor killings, torture, assassination and rape. The report reveals the most extensive violence against women has been committed by Shiite militias armed, trained, and financed by the United States.

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President George W. Bush heads for a seven day trip to South America which will include 7 countries, with the hopes of gaining the support of some against the “rising left tide” across the continent. Can he succeed? Hardly. With the growing support and sympathy to Venezuela and President Hugo Chavez in Latin America, and at a time when Bolivia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina and Uruguay followed the suit (not to mention Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica where the left candidates were also very close to win but lost in tight results) Bush and the rotten Washington strategies for Latin America (that lasted for decades) are definitely desperate now. Mark Weisbrot writes about this:

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The Bush Administration’s policy of trying to isolate Venezuela from its neighbors has only succeeded in isolating Washington. Last week President Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, speaking in Caracas, flatly rejected the notion that Argentina or Brazil should “contain President Chavez,” who he called “a brother and a friend.” In another thinly-veiled swipe at Washington, Kirchner said: “It cannot be that it bothers anyone that our nations become integrated.” At the same time he announced that Venezuela and Argentina will jointly issue a “Bond of the South” for $1.5 billion.
It’s all about denial. The political and economic changes sweeping Latin America are a serious break with the failed policies of the past. Washington’s influence has collapsed, and is not likely to recover.

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After the elections of Fall 2006, when the American public showed a clear determination not only for ending the war but “impeachment” as well, many optimistic people around the world began waiting for quick and powerful moves from the Congress, as the first signals of “ending a dark era” in the United States. With the clear majority in the Congress, there were of course many things to be done and hundreds of thousands people who demonstrated in Capitol at the end of January were expecting much. But instead, we began to see a “vague” strategy from Democrats since they won the elections.

David Swanson, analyzes the present situation in U.S. politics and questions the political standing of some leading Democrats, like the DCCC chairman Rahm Emanuel. What are they doing right now? Are they “sincere” about ending the war or is what we have been seeing is the first steps of a “manoeuvre” for “Democratizing the War”? Swanson writes:

In the meantime, the Democrats’ strategy of letting the war continue, not thoroughly investigating the fraud that launched it, and not holding the war-makers accountable may prove not to be the electoral winner that Party figures like Emanuel expect. It might even prove a political equalizer and so a loser in 2008 or beyond. Every day that the Democrats don’t move to end the war in Iraq is another day in which that war, stretching ever on, can become the Democrats’ war. Only if they come to believe that the war’s unpopularity will work against them in the voting booths in 2008 or thereafter will they be strongly motivated to take the sorts of actions that might actually bring it to an end.

Looks like we have just arrived a point of a political “Gordian Knot” which is to prove that the Democrats are not the “right address” to end the war and reestablish a prestigious, powerful and “free” America. In their daily little world, some Democrats probably worry about being titled as “the party that lost the war in Iraq” and either reluctantly or deliberately want to continue to follow the “orders” of the “corporate elite” who see many benefits to keep the Neocon strategies in the Middle East or elsewhere around the world. Obviously, the Americans deserve and need a much better and courageous political alternative than the Democrats. Even now, 2008 is seen very dark and foggy.

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The shortest route to ending the Iraq war (and preventing additional wars) is almost certainly through Congress. Influencing the White House directly is unimaginable, and stopping the war through the courts unlikely. Clearly, Congress is the way to go. But what specifically can Congress do?
So, clearly the question before us is not just what Congress can do to end the war, but also how the American public can persuade a Democratic Congress to want to end the war. Most Republican members of Congress still follow White House orders like sheep, and leading House Democrat Emanuel is openly telling the media that he’d just as soon have the war still going on in 2008. The war has cost an estimated 655,000 Iraqi lives and over 3,000 American ones in its first 4 years, with the death rate increasing over time, so by a safe estimate Emanuel has just written off perhaps another few hundred thousand lives for the sake of an electoral strategy.

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