I moved to the States from Canada in December of 2000, as the Bush-Gore election was being decided. (Almost turned back at the border, thinking, what am I doing?) Now, eight years later, the bad dream is over. Forty years after Martin Luther King’s assassination, that bad dream seems over, too. We can only hope that a 500-year bad dream (slavery and all that) might be ending too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Humanity with all its warts, its hopes, dreams, and nightmares, plods on.

Now that the people of the US have done their thing, things seem in better hands, and the onslaught on Gaza has subsided, if only temporarily, it’s important to look around and see what’s happening elsewhere. While, in the retrospect of the 18 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there’s a lot to be said for Gorbachevan moderation, there’s also a need to support widespread public initiatives for democracy, human rights, environmental protection, and anti-authoritarianism wherever they arise. One of those is Charter 08 in China. Its signatories deserve recognition for their courage, not jail, silence, and forgetting. It’s potentially a very important moment in the history of that country. There’s a lot of blogging about it: for instance, here and here and here.

Related to it, though indirectly, I highly recommend seeing Up the Yangtze, Yung Chang’s haunting film about change in and around one of the largest environmental (and human) modification projects in history. It’s one of the best docs of the last year.

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