Wikileaks Makes a Difference

Wikileaks is a site dedicated to getting information that is held behind closed doors into the open. The recent leak of a collection of American embassy cables has shone a lot of light on many diplomatic issues around the world.

The good news is that thanks to cables, people in oppressed regimes are seeing what the USA truly believes about their country. The most recent example is in Tunisia where an uprising as thrown out a bad dictator.

I asked our experts at Human Rights Watch to canvass their sources in the country, and the consensus was that while Tunisians didn’t need American diplomats to tell them how bad their government was, the cables did have an impact. The candid appraisal of Ben Ali by U.S. diplomats showed Tunisians that the rottenness of the regime was obvious not just to them but to the whole world — and that it was a source of shame for Tunisia on an international stage. The cables also contradicted the prevailing view among Tunisians that Washington would back Ben Ali to the bloody end, giving them added impetus to take to the streets. They further delegitimized the Tunisian leader and boosted the morale of his opponents at a pivotal moment in the drama that unfolded over the last few weeks.

This point might not be worth dwelling on, except that it suggests something interesting about how the United States, and the State Department in particular, approaches the challenge of promoting human rights and democracy in countries like Tunisia. Consider the following proposition: None of the decent, principled, conscientious, but behind the scenes efforts the State Department made in recent years to persuade the Tunisian government to relax its authoritarian grip — mostly through diplomatic démarches and meetings with top Tunisian officials — had any significant impact on the Ben Ali regime’s behavior or increased the likelihood of democratic change. Nor did the many quiet U.S. programs of outreach to Tunisian society, cultural exchanges and the like, even if Tunisians appreciated them and they will bear fruit as the country democratizes.

My personal take on this is that the people were clearly ready to act but needed a push, Wikileaks helped with that in Tunisia. Hopefully soon we’ll see other countries overthrow evil leaders and bringing more peace and well-being to more and more and more people.

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Weed to Fight Cancer

Medical marijuana is nothing new, in fact it is legal in many places already. What is new is that the active ingredient in marijuana that gets people high has been shown to attack cancer cells that modern science cannot eliminate!

Investigators at Complutense University in Spain assessed the anti-tumor activity of the cannabinoids THC and CBD (cannabidiol) in glioma xenografts (tissue grafts).

Authors reported that the administration of THC in combination with TMZ (the benchmark agent for the management of glioblastoma) “enhanced autophagy” (programmed cell death) in malignant tissue. The combined administration of THC, CBD, and TMZ “remarkably reduce[d] the growth of glioma xenografts … [and] produced a strong antitumoral action in both TMZ-sensitive and TMZ-resistant tumors.”

They concluded, “Altogether, our findings support that the combined administration of TMZ and cannabinoids could be therapeutically exploited for the management of GBM (gliobastoma multiforme).”

A 2006 pilot study published in the British Journal of Cancer reported that the intratumoral administration of THC was associated with reduced tumor cell proliferation in two of nine human subjects with GBM, which is highly resistant to conventional anti-cancer treatments.

Read more here.

An Awesome Foundation

The Awesome Foundation wants you to do something awesome, seriously! This is a great idea, a bunch of people put in some cash (in this case $1,000) and then others submit project ideas revolving around ways to make your city better!

The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences is an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe.

The Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is given upfront in a paper bag full of cash by a group of ten self-organizing “micro-trustees,” who form autonomous chapters around geographic areas or topics of interest.

Check out The Awesome Foundation

Wind Power Company Shares $1.5 Million Prize

The world’s largest wind-turbine manufacture won a $1.5 million prize and gave all the money to it’s competitors!

Vestas Wind Systems donated the money to help to launch a product label that will tell consumers which goods have been made using wind power.

The Danish company was chosen from six finalists. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, presented the awards last night as the World Future Energy Summit took place in the capital.

This is the kind of great attitude that will make the green economy surge!

Read the full article here.

Board Game Jam Toronto

As one of the organizers of this event I hope you all make it out to Board Game Jam! We’re putting together a weekend filled with building board games and playing them. We figure that through play we can build a bunch of games to bring more fun to the world as well as liven up the gaming community.

It’s happening January 29th-30th and we’d love to see you come out and make a game – particularly if the game is about good things!

Board Game Jam is an opportunity to play creatively with a freedom not normally seen these days. It’s a celebration of simplicity, and a return to some pretty awesome fundamentals. Do you love board games? Then you’re perfectly qualified to do this.

The point is that board games are both wonderfully accessible and quite deep. Everyone can intuitively understand the basics of what goes into making a board game. On a mechanical level, it’s simple arts and crafts. For people looking to be creative, that can be a great change from making a film or any kind of digital media, which require significant technical knowledge and a team of specialists. But making a board game can be lead you down a rabbit-hole into a world of rich creative exploration and sophisticated design. Like the best games of any sort, making a board game is both easy to learn, and tough to master.

Check out Board Game Jam!

Here’s the Facebook event page.

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