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Since Abdullah II assumed the throne in 1999, Jordan has
become increasingly authoritarian and corrupt.

The case for a human rights-based opposition to the Patriot Act.

When it comes to social control, nothing works quite like
torture.

Reading the New York Times reform proposals is like reading a
strategy memo from the dying embers of the Dukakis campaign.

SAYING A GOOD WORD FOR AMERICA

Minnesota's GOP looks to cut taxes and build more casinos
instead.

The future of the Democratic Party requires that it become a strong voice against the occupation of Iraq.

Thanks to Nation reader Matt Lipsky for letting us know that the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, a member of the Wal-Mart Free NYC coalition, now has a website and a blog.

The site details the Alliance's twenty-year fight to preserve small businesses in New York City, and features a comprehensive section on Wal-Mart, making the case from a small business and consumer perspective that the company would be bad for New York. Click here for info on how you can help.

There are also scores of other activist efforts currently working against the many manifestations of Wal-Mart's greed and perfidy. Notable among them is a new coalition called Wal-Mart Watch. (Read Liza Featherstone's new Nation online feature Wal-Mart Nation for details on the group's campaign in Maryland.)

We'll continue to keep our eyes out for effective opposition to the big-boxing of America, and please use our new comments section below to alert us to any campaigns you think we should be covering.

The first National Conference on Media Reform was held 18 months ago in Madison, Wisconsin. That conference, which drew 1,800 people from across the country and around the world, was a remarkable event in itself. But it was even more remarkable for the movement it helped advance to a new and dramatically more muscular stage.

After years of complaining as the media of the country consolidated and conglomerated into a corporate whole that was less than the sum of its parts, and where civic and democratic values were replaced by the commercial and entertainment demands of a corporate bottom line, twin streams of media critique and media activism exploded into a media reform movement that demanded fundamental changes in the way our media companies operate.

Suddenly, as journalist Bill Moyers suggested at that conference in November 2003, the fight was on "for a media system that serves as effectively as it sells – one that holds all the institutions of society, itself included, accountable."

Ecuador's new president, Alfredo Palacio, discusses the confidential World Bank agreements that are shackling his nation.

Well, he's still deceiving and misleading but we figure Dubya has more time to download now that he has the First Lady out there softening up the press corps for him.

What with the extra time on his hands, and with thanks to the many hundreds, I mean hundreds, of nominations received since I posted Bush's iPod, Take 2, I couldn't resist doing another installment. Here's a new round of songs for the First iPod, drawn from reader submissions. And I'd love to keep this going, so please use the new comments field below to let me know what you think the President should be listening to.

Black Sabbath's War Pigs was the top vote getter. ("Politicians hide themselves away. They only started the war. Why should they go out to fight? They leave that role to the poor, yeah.") Jaclyn Stacy in Stow, Ohio writes, " I cannot believe nobody has nominated War Pigs yet! Talk about a song being truer today than it was when it was originally released! We here in Cleveland have a local DJ that plays that song almost every day--his little barb at an Administration and a party run amok."

Cozying up to Wal-Mart may cost a New Jersey mayor his job.

I saw Victor Navasky the other night at an event in Washington for his new book, A Matter of Opinion. Before the crowd, he shared one of his secrets ...

Even decent people can be swept along by barbarism when a nation gets sick.

Last month, over a thousand trade unionists, human rights activists, students, miners, environmentalists, artists, left thinkers and journalists gathered on a campus in the heart of Moscow. It was Russia's first ever Social Forum, designed to develop strategies, exchange ideas, and build a new movement for democracy and social change--as has been done in recent years in Brazil, India and Italy.

Longtime political activist and journalist--and contributor to The Nation--Boris Kagarlitsky's report from the frontlines of this unprecedented event is published below. (As Director of the Institute of Globalization Studies, Kagarlitsky was one of the key organizers of the Forum.)

His analysis of what the Forum means for the future of opposition in Russia--and for the upsurge of new social movements and the left in that country--is an invaluable counter to the conventional wisdom about Putin's Russia.

I'm delighted to report that the two teenage girls detained without charge and held in a Pennsylvania detention center for six weeks after being called would-be suicide bombers despite any supporting evidence have been released. Many thanks to all Nation readers who responded to this blog and sent letters in their support. This is a small victory in the fight against the prosecutorial excesses allowed by the PATRIOT ACT and a huge victory for the girls, their families and their supporters.

The labor movement is not about one individual or one moment in time. It goes on, regardless. But there are some individuals who rise through the ranks of the movement at the right moment and define it – or, as was the case with Miguel Contreras, redefine it. The tireless chief of Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, whose death Friday from a heart attack at age 52 shocked union activists in California and across the country, transformed a struggling local coalition into a dynamic force for economic justice and political change.

At a time when the national AFL-CIO was only beginning to recognize the need to reach out to the immigrant workers who were fast becoming the backbone of the hotel, restaurant, health care and construction industries, Contreras put the Los Angeles federation in the forefront of campaigns to organize Latino and Asian-American workers. And he turned those newly-organized workers, and their families and neighbors, into a voting bloc with the potential to change not just Los Angeles county but California.

The son of migrant laborers who was drawn into the union movement by Cesar Chavez, Contreras took over the Los Angeles County Federation in 1996, when its member unions had about 650,000 members. Today, they have more than 800,000. The incredible growth of the LA Fed under Contreras's leadership was noticed quickly, and his ideas about organizing immigrants and flexing political muscle inspired activists nationwide. "People across the country look at LA as a model of success," Anna Burger, of the Service Employees International Union, a key ally of Contreras, told the Los Angeles Times.

Just when you thought it might be impossible for the Bush administration and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to stoop any lower, they have sunk to a new depth. They are now, in the well-chosen words of one member of the U.S. House, "using America's fighting men and women as human shields to pass pork-laden legislation."

The administration and its chief congressional ally hijacked the resolution for supplemental funding of the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and added to the measure a laundry list of giveaways to special interests and bad policies. In addition to packing in all sorts of new immigration rules and expenditures, which should have been dealt with on their own merits rather than buried in an "emergency" spending bill, they also included money for a "wish-list" of Pentagon boondoggles that have nothing to do with helping the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan -- let alone getting them home alive.

Unfortunately, most Democrats went along with this abuse of the legislative process, making themselves partners in an ugly and unwarranted diversion of taxpayer dollars. The final House vote in favor of the $82 billion package was 368-58. Supporting the "emergency" bill were 225 Republicans and 143 Democrats; opposing it were 54 Democrats, three Republicans and Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders.