Youth from Taiwan announcing their open space session, at the 2013 International Democratic Education Conference. (Source:

In the past week, I’ve been at two amazing conferences, both dealing with democratizing education. The first was IDEC, the International Democratic Education Conference, held this year in Boulder, Colorado.

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Our national deficit debates are increasingly turning to healthcare costs and the need to evolve our current dysfunctional healthcare system. A recent addition to this debate is a new book by a founder of Tai Sophia in Laurel, Maryland. In his book, Breaking the Iron Triangle: Reducing Healthcare Costs in Corporate America, Robert Duggan notes that our current debate frames healthcare as an “iron triangle”. The iron triangle refers to healthcare cost, quality, and access. According to Duggan, “common sense tells us that is impossible to maximize quality and access while minimizing cost.” He argues the iron triangle can be broken only by abandoning cherished, destructive assumptions and complementing our existing “disease system” with a strengthened “wellness system”. The book includes several examples of institutions – including many local to Maryland – that are currently taking up this challenge.

Saturday, July 20 rally to “end the senseless violence, to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, to focus on healing, to honor the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King and to seek a brighter tomorrow.” Photo by Bill Hughes.

I would think that white people would not want to bring up the subject of violence to African Americans whose ancestors were slaves. Black on black crime? Really? That subject is the popular go-to issue that stalks the Trayvon Martin tragedy like a cowardly, failed martial arts student stalks his victim – with a gun. Since the George Zimmerman controversial verdict that has galvanized civil rights activists and even moved the most dedicated couch potatoes out of their barcoloungers, that’s been the buzz. Many people, including the president, are calling for an honest, serious conversation on race. Is that what the race conversation consists of, putting the worst of the “least of these” under indictment? Do we really want to put a bull’s eye on the poorest, most underserved segments of the population and take aim?

Voter ID Laws. Photo from:

Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” On that note, the myth of widespread voter fraud is streaking across America while the truth of minority voter suppression is just stringing up its Adidas.

It is more likely that someone will be struck by lightening than lose an election by voter fraud. That’s the truth.

The Charles Theatre, in Baltimore, is presenting the film, “Dirty Wars.” It features investigative journalist, Jeremy Scahill, and it deals with how America conducts its many and far-flung “covert wars.” On Friday night, July 26th, peace activist and author, David Swanson, shared his views on the film with me. Later, he also led a discussion with the audience about the documentary.

PFC Bradley Manning. (Source: Getty Images)

Bradley Manning's court martial for the Wikileaks leak of military and diplomatic documents is taking place at Fort Meade, only about 30 miles from where I live in Baltimore. The trial is open to the public, and I've attended the trial on two and a half days over the past several weeks, including for the prosecution's closing arguments on Thursday, July 25. I wanted to observe what I think is a historic event in person, and also to show support for Manning, whom I consider a hero.

Protests on July 13th, 2013, in Texas against anti-choice legislation. Photo By: Eric Imhof

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Notes on the State of Virginia, adding, “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

"Left of the Dial: Conversations with Punk Icons" by: David Ensminger. Photo from:

One of the many takeaways from David Ensminger’s newly published Left of the Dial: Conversations with Punk Icons is that subtleties matter. Even the book’s title seems to ask us to examine the distinction between an interview and a conversation, which the author makes clear over and over again.

Protesters gathered in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. to protest the verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman. Photo by Allie Morris/PBS NewsHour

This is a day not only to mourn Trayvon Martin, but justice in America, as well. George Zimmerman was not the only one on trial. America was on trial in that southern courtroom. The black hoodie made famous by Trayvon’s supporters, becomes a shroud because justice was buried in that “not guilty” verdict. Even the shiny words of a black president, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin” could not uphold the fantasy of a “post-racial” America in this Jim Crow flashback.

Condom Man. Sketch By: Dale Cooper

Sara McClean interviews independent gay porn performers: Colby Keller and Dale Cooper --both of whom call Baltimore home. We sit down to talk with them about pornography as a career, its gender and feminist implications, the strengths and limitations of porn as a profession, sex worker organizing and workplace protections, and the role of porn in sexual health.

Dale Cooper Colby Keller Interview -- June 23, 2013


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