Tag Archives: Global Awareness

The Climate Change Denial Machine

index  “The Koch Brothers & Their Amazing Climate Change Denial Machine” is short, three-and-a-half minute-long film made by the Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham. The footage used is part of his longer, 55 minute long documentary “The Billionaires’ Tea Party” (2011).
A good example of visually effective use of animation techniques, this short film details the effort of Charles and David Koch, oil barons that spent millions to influence American public opinion, undermining the belief in global warming and trying to prevent any legislation targeting climate change that could result in a threat to their profits.
By financing bogus scientific studies and funding complacent Think Tanks and Front Groups (including but not limited to Women groups and Senior Groups), the public is lead to believe that global warming and the threats it entails are only a theory and not a fact. The truth is that those that argue against climate change are a small minority, but their coordination and funding are such that they have been able to influence opinion and legislation, thus safeguarding the interests of influential but largely anonymous energy oligarchs.
Produced by Larrikin films, the director’s own Production Company, whose name refers to irreverence toward authority and disregard for the norms of propriety”, the film was mainly distributed through the web.
In my opinion, this documentary does a very effective job of portraying the dangerous sides of corporate takeover of democracy, as well as warning the public against the content of mainstream, often interest-group-funded, media.
Some useful links to watch the film and learn more:

“Affluenza”: The True “Common Cold” Among the World’s Most Affluent (Samantha Lucci)

Affluenza articles

In the 1997 PBS documentary film Affluenza, producer John de Graaf comments on the current state of the United States’ consumer culture, focusing on shopping malls as the center of society’s materialism. From the film’s perspective, our communities’ excessive rates of consumption signify a growing epidemic–a contagious and inflammatory disease called “affluenza.” The film approaches the discussion of the epidemic using both comedy and drama to emphasize the absurd nature of our current consumer habits. It points out that Americans alone account for nearly half of the world’s hazardous waste while using up almost a third of its resources, alone. Americans make up only about five percent of the world population.  Continue reading

Broken On All Sides (Betty Mattei)

Broken On All Sides is a sixty-eight minute long documentary directed and produced by Michele Pillischer, released in 2012. This documentary began as a profile on the overcrowded Philadelphia County jail, but grew to encompass a much larger audience and impact when Pillischer realized it was not a problem specific to Philadelphia, but all urban areas.

Broken_On_All_Sides_3dcase_388X657_grande Broken On All Sides recounts  the current mass incarceration of African-Americans in the USA; with only 5% of the world’s population, the USA makes up 25% of all the worlds prisoners. Continue reading

The Lorax (Caely Rose Hibbits)

Lorax_teaser_posterThe Lorax, written by Dr. Seuss, was published in 1971.  In 2012, Universal Studios and Illumination Entertainment released a movie/musical based on the book.  Both the book and the movie are about a boy living Thneedville, where everything is manufactured.  Even air is sold. Things that seem unimaginable to people are reality.  Paying for air or never having seen a tree that is real, has become the truth.  Just as years ago people thought paying for water in a plastic bottle was absurd, it is now a fact of life.  This movie show the effects that being greedy can have on nature.  Both through the current example of a man selling air and an example from the past about a man cutting down all of the trees.

This fictional tale uses a sarcastic tone to get the point across.  It also uses hyperbole and personification.  I thought that the colors and animation was done wonderfully in the film and that the images appeal to a younger audience. Hopefully this format will get the message across and teach them to love their surroundings, that nature isn’t something that doesn’t need to be cared for, and that money isn’t everything.

Most films that are socially conscious, are not well funded because they can easily cause controversy.  This film on the other hand, was funded by Universal Studios and was pretty much a shoe-in for a large audience.  The film brought in over 346 million dollars just from the box office, even though critics claim that much of the meaning was lost in the “Hollywood feature style,” which I agree with.  But, if this is what it takes for millions of people to watch a movie about playing ones part in saving the environment, I’m all for it.

While some of the original message may be lost, I think that kids will respond to The Lorax, if only for a short amount of time.  Whether it be planting a tree, or a garden, or even being nice to animals or other classmates something will happen. As for the older audience that saw the movie I think the last line will really effect them  “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not!”

The movie was available in theaters, digital purchase, dvd or bluray, as well a video game for iOS or Android Devices.  For more information one can look at the Lorax’s website: http://www.theloraxmovie.com/index.php

 

Guest Speaker: Mark Fonseca Rendeiro (March 13, 2013 in Arianna Auditorium at 12:30PM)

Mark Fonseca Rendeiro aka Bicyclemark; Portuguese-American, alternative journalist and independent podcast producer specializing in online journalism, social movements and global conflicts. 

Cairo, Egypt - 2012

Cairo, Egypt – 2012

In the year 2000 I started writing news commentary and reviews under the internet name bicyclemark, a name I was given for my preferred transportation back in New Jersey.  By 2001 I was working in Portugal when I founded the original incarnation of citizenreporter.org, then called bicyclemark’s communique. Later that year I moved to Amsterdam, where my interests turned to daily blogging with a focus on creative writing and news analysis. Continue reading

Fluoride in Tap Water (Giulia Mello Grand)

Water Fluoridation is the controversial but nonetheless practiced addition of fluoride to the public water supply to help prevent and reduce tooth decay and cavities. Controversial, because for every source listing the benefits of fluoridation there is another citing just as many negative side-effects (and both points of view are backed up by scientific research and qualified experts’ opinion). Practiced, because the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Spain, the UK, and Vietnam are just a few of the countries in which this measure as, to different degrees, been introduced.

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Let’s therefore take a look the pros and cons of this practice and form our own point of view on the subject.
Although fluoride was once considered an essential nutrient, the U.S. National Research Council has since removed this designation due to the lack of studies showing it is essential for human growth, though still considering fluoride a “beneficial element” due to its positive impact on oral health. In Europe, only Ireland (73%), Poland (1%), Serbia (3%), Spain (11%), and the U.K. (11%) fluoridate any of their water. Most developed countries, including Japan and 97% of the western European population, do not consume fluoridated water.
The arguments against fluoridation of water and its relative consumption are numerous. Some of the most cited include:
Fluoride accumulates in the body, and there is no health agency monitoring its effects on population; it causes dental fluorosis; it is received by all demographics regardless of age, health or vulnerability, which means that children are the most exposed; there are alleged side effects which include neuro-toxic effects on the brain that lower IQ and impair visual-spatial organization, as well as negative effects on the thyroid and pineal gland functions; it may damage bone, with some studies linking fluoride to arthritic symptoms and bone cancer; The chemicals used to fluoridate water are not pharmaceutical grade, but rather remnants of fertilizing industries; Fluoridation is considered unethical in that it is not an individualized therapy, but rather one given without most patients’ knowledge or informed consent; and lastly, it’s effectiveness is not proved, considering that the levels of tooth-decay are decreasing in fluoridated countries just as much as they are in fluoridated ones.

who_data01The reasoning in favor of adding fluoride to tap water is just as consistent:
The goal of water fluoridation is to prevent tooth decay (dental caries), which is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases worldwide. Fluoride exerts its major effect by interfering with the demineralization mechanism of tooth decay.  A 2000 systematic review found that water fluoridation was statistically associated with a decreased proportion of children with cavities. The evidence supporting the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of fluoridation of community water supplies comes from multiple sources covering 50 years of legitimate research published in peer reviewed journals. These all conclude that adding fluoride to drinking water is not only healthy, but also an important element in promotion of dental health. All residents of a community can enjoy community water fluoridation’s protective benefits regardless of a person’s income level or ability to receive routine dental care.
These are all good reasons to back up the provision of adding fluoride to tap water. However, from what I can see from research, the evidence is contradictory, and does not seem to take into account other factors that could affect the decrease in tooth decay registered. I also dislike the fact that this medication is distributed to a mostly unknowing population, a population that may include subjects that are sensitive to the chemical and may therefore be harmed by drinking tap water without even knowing. If some studies and as many experts (including Nobel prize winner Arvid Carlsson)  suggest that the side effects are numerous and varied, the government should consider them. On what basis do the U.S. and other governments credit the studies in favor of fluoridation as opposed to the ones against them?

Glass-half-full.jpegI therefore believe that more information should be made available to the population. The issue should be publicized and, ideally, be submitted to public referenda, so that communities are given the opportunity to make their own, informed, choice on the subject.
Furthermore, serious and targeted research should be conducted by governments on the subject, and those countries that do implement water fluoridation should definitely establish a monitoring health agency, to control the effects of such measure and thus assess possible counter-effects effectively and timely.

Useful links for your own information and independent research:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_fluoridation

(a good point to start) But here are some more sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5014a1.htm

http://www.fluoridealert.org/articles/50-reasons/

http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/crd/pdf/summary.pdf

http://www.fluorideinfo.org/

The Bilderberg Group (By: Marisa Beirne)

The Bilderberg Group is an elite group of influential people from North America and Western Europe. The group consists of 120-140 members who are all either political leaders or involved in the financial industry, labor industry, and highly respected communicators. The Bilderberg Group is also known to the public as “The Bilderberg Confrence” and “The Bilderberg Club”. The group participates in annual invitation only meetings that are completely closed to the public.

bilderberg-2011-all-aboard-the-bilderbus

The main initiative of The Bilderberg group is to create a better understanding of the American and Western European cultures. It is the hope of the group that if a better understanding is created between these two areas of the world this will lead to better economic and political relationships. It is also hoped that the better relationship will lead to better cooperation on defense issues between the United States and Western Europe.
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Garden-In-A-Sack (Anna Cheffy)

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Garden-In-A-Sack is a project that started in the largest slums of Kenya to increase access to food. In 2008, post-election violence erupted and destroyed nearly all local food markets. A French non-governmental organization, Solidarites International, created this project in response to the devastation. They developed a low-cost gardening system that allowed locals to grow their own food in recycled sugar sacks. It has brought urban agriculture to rural villages.
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The Safe Agua Water System (Marisa Beirne)

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Water is considered a colorless, transparent, odorless, and tasteless liquid. This being said it could be considered the most valuable substance to a human. Water is used for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and so much more! Knowing how important water is to humans it is crazy to think that in places such as the campamentos (informal communities) of Santiago, Chile water is unbelievable hard to attain and considered a luxury! Men, women, and children of all ages have to carry large buckets of water far distances just to get water for basic needs! This does not only take a huge amount of strength but also time and energy.

The “Safe Agua Water System” project is very realistic as well effective in promoting positive social change. Faculty and students at the Design Matters Program at the Art Center College of Design teamed together with Chilean NGO Un Techo para Mi País to create a safe water system that allows thousands of people to easily attain water for their homes! Continue reading

LifeStraw (Abbe Bernard)

54In these third world countries, waterborne viruses are a huge contributor to death.  Around 6,000 people die each and every day, because they are consuming unsafe water.  Nearly one in five children’s death is in results of diarrhea, which kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles together.
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