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The Beat

About the Author

John Nichols
John Nichols
John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated...

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The 2012 vice presidential candidate is just trying to rebrand himself for 2016.

Officials have temporarily suspended water shutoffs, and activists are working to create permanent protections for low-income families.

Sea Turtles Redux? More than sixty members of the

Ruckus Society

, the

Direct Action Network

,

Global Exchange

,

Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

, the

50 Years Is Enough Network

and other groups behind the World Trade Organization protests that made the word "Seattle'' synonymous with in-your-face activism gathered in Washington in mid-January. Their new goal: to shake up--and perhaps shut down--the April joint meeting in that city of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. "These are the other two pillars of an undemocratic global economy, and we want to turn some of the post-Seattle enthusiasm in their direction,'' Global Exchange's

Juliette Beck

says of actions planned for the week of April 9-16...

Jubilee 2000/USA

, which presses the IMF, World Bank and governments to grant debt forgiveness to poor nations, plans a "human chain'' protest in Washington on Sunday, April 9...Public Citizen and unions fighting most-favored-nation status for China plan April 12 protests. Public Citizen's

Mike Dolan

, key organizer of the WTO protests, says, "You may see a little direct action, a little Seattle action.''... The road from Seattle to Washington passed through the Alps in late January, as 2,000 protesters filled the streets of the Swiss city of Davos. Seeking to disrupt the annual gathering of the elite World Economic Forum, which drew 1,000 business and political leaders, British foes of genetic modification of food, French farmers and Swiss leftists carried banners that read Fight the WEF and Don't Let the Multinationals Destroy the People. Resist.

Making Waves Can citizens turn the tide against media mergermania? Hawaiian activists are surfing a wave of success in their fight against the nation's largest daily newspaper group, Gannett Corporation, which owns the Honolulu Advertiser. Gannett hatched a plan last September to end newspaper competition by offering the publisher of the rival Star-Bulletin $26.5 million to fold. Similar deals have shuttered competing newspapers in Miami, Nashville and other cities. Industry analysts said the scrappy 117-year-old "Pulse of Paradise'' was doomed. But the

Hawaii Newspaper Guild

, the

International Longshore and Warehouse Union

, community activists and readers formed the

Save Our Star-Bulletin Coalition

.

Ah Jook Ku

of the

Honolulu Community-Media Council

argued, "A media monopoly means no open forum on ideas.'' An injunction won by Hawaii's Attorney General preventing the closure has held, and the Star-Bulletin continues to publish. The Guild's

Wayne Cahill

says, "We hope this is a signal to people across the country that they can take on the media giants.''...San Francisco Supervisor

Tom Ammiano

and San Francisco Bay Guardian publisher

Bruce Brugmann

hail Hawaii's example as a model for the fight to preserve newspaper competition in their city, as Hearst Corporation, publisher of the Examiner, moves to buy the Chronicle. A San Francisco supervisors' resolution urges a city suit to block the sale. Ammiano says, "There is popular sentiment that we want to keep San Francisco a two-newspaper town.''

Execution Song Roots rocker

Steve Earle

is one of the nation's loudest foes of the death penalty. But the intensity of Earle's concerts can't compare with his poetry reading. At a rally for the

Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Project

, which campaigns to stop executions, Earle pounded the air as he read about clutching the hand of a condemned man in the Texas jail "where death seeps one drop at a time.'' Since 1977 Illinois has executed twelve inmates; thirteen have been exonerated due to wrongful convictions, prompting Illinois Governor George Ryan to implement the moratorium until all death-row convictions can be investigated.

Stop The War Presidential candidates seeking to engage young voters can find 18-year-old

Katie Cailler

working the counter at a Concord, New Hampshire, convenience store. The pink-haired

Ani DiFranco

fan says, "I'd vote for a candidate who wanted to end sanctions against Iraq and stop the bombing there. But the candidates don't talk about it.'' Cailler is right. However, sixty-four House members have signed a letter initiated by Michigan Democrat

John Conyers

and California Republican

Tom Campbell

calling for an end to sanctions.

The Education for Peace in Iraq Center

's

Erik Gustafson

, a Gulf War vet, leads an effort to get more signatures. Citizen lobbyists targeted waverers like Colorado's

Mark Udall

for calls.

Cookie Crumbles Presidential candidates in New Hampshire and Iowa were greeted by "Cookie Ladies'' distributing confections with frosting in the form of pie charts illustrating Pentagon largesse. The cookies are part of

Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities

' "Move Our Money'' campaign to shift $40 billion annually from military spending to education and child healthcare. The response from Bill Bradley's campaign was warm, but Al Gore aides made Iowa Cookie Lady

M.L. Lindon

take off her apron and leave her wares at the door. About 100 Polk County, Iowa, precinct caucuses endorsed the shift, according to

Peggy Huppert

, local Democratic co-chair. When the presidential primaries wind down, the campaign, headed by

Ben Cohen

of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, will move to key Congressional districts.

Daring to Speak "At every high school in the Midwest/all the queers are at the bottom/just above the poor and pregnant/just below the future farmers,'' sings

Meg Hentges

on her edgy new CD, Brompton's Cocktail (Robbins). But it's not just the Midwest. A

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

survey finds that 90 percent of gay and lesbian youth report facing antigay epithets at school. The group seeks more legislation like California's Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act, authored by State Assemblywoman

Sheila Kuehl

, California's first openly lesbian legislator.

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