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Apple Computer is publicly opposing Proposition 8 in California, which prohibits equal rights and benefits to employees with same-sex partners, by making a donation of $100,000 to the “no on 8” campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to their employees’ same sex partners, and they “strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights – including the right to marry – should not be affected by their sexual orientation.” Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue.”

“Good for Apple. They made computing easy for the masses and now they’re making it easier for same-sex partners to get equal rights and benefits.”

by David Smith The Republik

Photo Credit: © Apple Inc.


We believe the ten change agents below show great promise for bringing about a variety of improvements to mankind. To put our money where our mouth is, The Republik is going to make a $50,000 donation to the agent of change that gets the most votes. You can only vote once, so make it count. Below the poll are links to websites of the ten contenders. Final votes will be tallied on November 4 and we’ll announce the winner right here shortly thereafter. Thanks for participating in our little effort to support those who want to change the world for the better.



About the change agents:

The Pickens Plan
Spearheded by T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman, BP Capital Management, the Pickens Plan calls for building new wind generation facilities that will produce 20% of our nation’s electricity and allow us to use natural gas as a transportation fuel. The combination of these domestic energies can replace more than one-third of our foreign oil imports in less than 10 years.

Aravind Eye Care Hospital
At age 65, instead of retiring, Dr. G. Venkataswamy mortgaged his home and opened Aravind Eye Care to perform free or low-cost cataract surgery on poor Indians. In his first year, Dr. V. performed over 5,000 surgeries.

Today, Aravind is the largest and most productive eye care facility in the world. From April 2007 to March 2008, about 2.4 million persons hav received outpatient eye care and over 285,000 have undergone eye surgeries there.

Grameen Bank
Founded by 2006 Nobel Peace winner, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity. It’s goal is to eradicate poverty from the world.

Largely due to Grameen’s work, Bangledesh is the only country in the world on course to reach the millennium development goals of reducing poverty by one half by 2015.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)
Founded by the inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen, FIRST was created “To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes.”

Its mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills.

FIRST students are:
– More than 3 times as likely to major specifically in engineering.
– Nearly 4 times as likely to expect to pursue a career specifically in engineering.

Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), University of California, San Francisco
SynBERC’s vision is to catalyze biology as an engineering discipline to allow researchers to design and build standardized, integrated biological systems to accomplish many particular tasks. Just as technicians can now assemble off-the-shelf electronic components to build computers, SynBERC foresees a day when engineers will assemble biological components into host organisms to achieve specific functions.

SynBERC is currently working on:

a.) Construction of a custom-built E. coli bacteria that will hunt down cancer cells and destroy them
b.) Development of a bacterium for customized chemical synthesis to create a super-strong silk
c.) Development of a bacterium to produce cheap biofuels from corn and other plants

A Swarm of Angels
A Swarm of Angels (ASOA) is an open source film project, whose aim is to make the world’s first Internet-funded, crewed and distributed feature film. The Film will be written, funded and distributed over the Internet. The plan is to gather a group of 50,000 people who each contribute £25 ($47.50) to join the project.

The film will be released under a Creative Commons license, and people are free to share, remix, and, distribute the film anyway they like.

Population Services International (PSI)
PSI is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. that harnesses the vitality of the private sector to address the health problems of low-income populations in more than 60 developing countries. With programs in malaria, reproductive health, child survival and HIV, PSI promotes products, services and healthy behavior. Products and services are sold at subsidized prices rather than given away in order to motivate commercial sector involvement. In 2007, PSI estimates that its programs directly prevented more than 156,000 HIV infections, 2.6 million unintended pregnancies, more than 149,000 deaths from malaria and diarrhea and 19 million malaria episodes.

Atlas Economic Research Foundation
Atlas is committed to discover, develop and support ‘intellectual entrepreneurs’ worldwide who can advance the vision of a society of free and responsible individuals. Atlas believes a free society can be achieved through respect for private property rights, limited government under the rule of law, and the market order.

Atlas discovers, develops and supports intellectual entrepreneurs by leveraging its position at the center of a worldwide movement to bring attention to all sorts of experiments at the task of furthering the free society.

Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders, USA (DWB-USA) was founded in 1990 in New York City to raise funds, create awareness, recruit field staff, and advocate with the United Nations and US government on humanitarian concerns. It assists victims of disasters and conflicts worldwide by supporting relief projects conducted primarily by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) affiliates. MSF is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, negligence, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. In 2007, MSF-USA raised $152.1 million and sent 200 aid workers to work overseas.

Accion International
ACCION International is a private organization with the mission of giving people the financial tools they need – microenterprise loans, business training and other financial services – to work their way out of poverty. A world pioneer in microfinance, ACCION was founded in 1961 and issued its first microloan in 1973 in Brazil. ACCION International’s partner microfinance institutions today are providing loans as low as $100 to poor men and women entrepreneurs in 25 countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the United States. In the last decade alone, ACCION partners have disbursed more than 22.4 million microloans totaling more than $17.4 billion; 97 percent of the loans have been repaid.

by Robert Shaw West Brand Futurist The Republik Companies Chairman/CEO


“The winners of the platform wars stand to make billions selling devices, selling eyeballs to advertisers, selling services such as music, movies, even computer power on demand. Yet the outcome here is far more important than who makes the most money. The future of the Internet—how we get information, how we communicate with one another and, most important, who controls it—is at stake.” Josh Quittner/San Francisco.

From here.

“The underlying question is: Are the users of the Internet actually in the driver’s seat or are the 800-pound gorilla businesses jockeying behind the scenes the one’s truly controlling the outcome?”

by Sam Knoll Brand Futurist The Republik Commander Analytic Ops

Photo Credit: via Time Inc.


You’ll be happy to know that as of March 2008, toddlers can no longer marry in the state of Arkansas. A change for the better, I’d say. The law that mistakenly allowed anyone – even rugrats – to marry with parental permission was repealed by a measure signed into law in March of this year by Governor Mike Beebe, ending months of embarrassment for the state and confusion for county clerks.

Now that the Arkansas’ marriage-age crisis is over, it’s time to turn our attention to other states and the laws that make them great (or not so great).

To read more dumb laws, click here.

In Alabama, incestuous marriages are legal. However, wearing a fake mustache in church to illicit laughter is illegal (and punishable by law).

In Arizona, it is legal for a man to beat his wife. But it is illegal to beat her more than once a month. (“Wendy, I’m home!”)

In the “old colony” state of Massachusetts, it is illegal to hunt on Sundays. However, it is legal to carry a rifle to church on Sunday. (Go ahead Heathen, make my day.)

In Illinois, it is legal for young women to protest naked in front of city hall as long as they are under 17 years of age and have legal permits. It is illegal, however, for women over 200 pounds (90 kilos) to ride horses in shorts. (a.k.a “The Lady Godiva must lay off the Godivas Law.” For shame Illinois.)

In Michigan, any person over the age of 12 may have a license for a handgun as long as he/she has not been convicted of a felony. However, it is illegal for a woman to cut her own hair without her husband’s permission.

In the Big Apple, the New York City Transit Authority has ruled that women can ride the city subways topless. It is illegal, however, for women to sit on a subway bench topless and smoke a cigarette. (Smoking is not allowed in the subways.)

If a police officer approaches a vehicle in Idaho and suspects that the occupants are engaging in sex, he must either honk or flash his lights and wait for three minutes before approaching the car. (Now this law, I like. Good show Idaho!)

There are countless stupid laws on the books (and some pretty controversial ones, as well, i.e. women’s reproductive rights for starters). Check out your state. If you see one you don’t like, write to your legislator and give him/her an earful. Enlist your friends, your neighbors, your town. Who knows, maybe you can effect some change – for the better.

by Jacqueline Stevenson Brand Futurist The Republik Corporal Strategic Ops


Where the Reverend Wright went wrong

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, and the forgiveness of sins? The Reverend Jerimiah Wright, Jr. does and so says he. You know the guy – Our African-American-controversial-pastor du jour and spiritual counsel to presidential hopeful Barak Obama.

Unless you’ve been living under a burning bush, you also know this former Obama advisory board member believes the government of the United States is corrupt, that rich, white men are the root of all evil, and life everlasting can be achieved by ousting Republicans from the White House. And so says he, to his flock of hundreds with unmerciful regularity.

Can I get a witness up in here? Rev. Wright had a couple a zillion when he made his now infamous inflammatory remarks denouncing our government to his congregation at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s south side; a congregation that happens to include a candidate running for the office of United States president.

Obama made clear that he denounced the good reverend’s remarks of that particular sermon. “The reverend is retiring,” said Obama, a 20-year member of the Wright’s church. “He’s getting on in years.” He just had a bad day. Right? It’s time to forgive the good reverend and move on. After all, isn’t forgiveness what religion’s all about?

Let’s forgive the fact that the Reverend Wright uses his influence and power to propagate politics from his pulpit. (Say that fast five times and you’ve won yourself a communion cracker.) Let’s forgive the fact that he hates rich, white men. Let’s forgive the fact that he hates republicans. Let’s also forgive the fact that in a 2003 sermon he encouraged his congregation and all blacks to “damn America in God’s name” and blamed the U.S. for provoking the 9/11 terrorist attacks by dropping nuclear weapons on Japan in World War II and supporting Israel. Additionally, Wright called America the “number 1 killer in the world” and blamed the country for launching the AIDS virus to maintain affluence at the expense of the Third World. And let’s forgive his sermon where he said the American government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.

I’ll tell you what’s unforgivable: A religious leader inspiring hate, fear and contempt from a position of power and influence. From a pulpit, no less, to a rapt audience. Take a gander at the youtube video. His congregation was beyond rapt. They looked positively punch drunk. (fyi: be wary of the kool-aid guys).

From my experience, going to church is an uplifting and joyful celebration, full of lovely prose about love and acceptance and forgiveness. Sit, kneel, stand. Sing some catchy tunes about love and acceptance and forgiveness. Worship God followed by: drink coffee and eat bundt cake. If my pastor has a political point of view, I don’t know it. Don’t want to. Amen.

What Obama has said he values most about Pastor Wright is not so much his day-to-day political advice, but rather his sage spiritual counsel. “He’s much more of a sounding board,” said Obama, “to make sure I am speaking truthfully about what I believe as possible and that I’m not losing myself in some of the hype and hoopla and stress that’s involved in national politics.”

Sounding board? I wonder if Obama would be better served seeking advice from Louis Farrakahn, who, by the way, is a longtime friend of … sound the trumpets please … The Reverend Wright. Lord, have mercy.

Lo, there have been many before Wright who have paved the way for preaching politics from the pulpit: Jerry Falwell, Jesse Jackson, the kool aid guy and lest us not forget Pat Robertson. Hell, this guy even ran for president (talk about crossing over).

Here’s my advice to the wrong Reverend Wright and all those of his ilk: Before you cross the threshold of God’s house each Sunday, check your political views (radical, militant, racist and/or otherwise) at the door. And stick to what you know (and what you’ve been called upon to do): Preaching the power of God’s word and uplifting your congregation. ‘nuff said.

p.s.: Forgive me God, for I have penned. But hey, this is an opinion editorial. I welcome your comments.

And now for … A little theological humor…

How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?

Charismatic (Born Again): Only 1
Hands are already in the air.

Pentecostal: 10
One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None
Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic: None
Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15.
One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken.

Episcopalians: 3
One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Mormons: 5
One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined
Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.

Nazarene: 6
One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None
Lutherans don’t believe in change.

What’s a light bulb?

by Jacqueline Stevenson Brand Futurist The Republik Corporal Strategic Ops