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Despite its controversy, World AIDS Day has demonstrated how vast and global the AIDS movement has gone. While the extent of AIDS advocacy was not as far-reaching then, in 1987 a burgeoning movement of health care practitioners and gay activists battled the FDA's questionable policies on AIDS drugs experimentation, which included excluding women and i.v. users from drug trials.

Congress returns to DC today, December 6, after a recess and a coalition of groups, led by our friends at Democrats.com are welcoming them with an antiwar message. This National Call-In Day--organized by Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America, After Downing Street and United for Peace and Justice--aims to focus legislative offices squarely on the centrality of the war as the foremost issue that must be addressed.

The message is simple: "I am calling to let Rep. ______ know that I think the Iraq war is wrong and all our troops should be brought home immediately!" The call-ins have already started so please click here right away to find contact info for your elected reps and let them know you expect them to work for a speedy end to the war in Iraq. You can also call the Capitol switchboard toll-free at 888-818-6641.

(This same coalition is organizing a series of nationwide "Out of Iraq" events this January 7. Click here for info.)

"At the national level, we are seeing the most outrageous string of pay-to-play scandals in a generation," wrote Nick Nyhart, co-founder and Executive Director of Public Campaign, on TPMCafe. "Unfortunately, in Congress, no one is focusing on the kinds of reforms that would shift power away from well-healed lobbying interests." 

At the state level, however, it's a different story. On Wednesday night, after seven hours of debate, the Connecticut Senate voted 27 to 8 in favor of passing the most comprehensive  campaign finance reform bill in the country.  The breakthrough legislation comes on the heels of a deeply damaging corruption scandal in Connecticut, where former Governor John Rowland is serving a one-year prison sentence for accepting gifts from state contractors. 

Taking effect in December of 2006, the bill bans political contributions from lobbyists and state contractors and creates a publicly funded election system that encompasses all statewide races.  What's truly remarkable about Connecticut is that, for the first time, a legislature passed a campaign finance bill that affects its own seats. "It will truly make Connecticut's elections about the voters and not about the donors," said Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Hartford. 

The tragedy that is Iraq can never be told in numbers alone, but the hard facts--every loss, every life, every dollar--only strengthen the arguments against this brutal war.

With professionals at the top forced out and replaced by GOP
fundraisers, the right-wing takeover of the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting is now plain to see. Though CPB's Inspector General has
exposed former chair Kenneth Tomlinson's ethical transgressions, what
else are they hiding?

It's one thing for our State Department to plant phony stories in the
media or jam broadcasts in Cuba. It's quite another for conservative
policy analyst Frank Gaffney bolster's George Bush's grudge against Al
Jazeera by arguing that it was "imperative that enemy media be taken
down."

Dick Cheney channels Nat King Cole in an unforgettable rendition of the
meaning of the word "reprehensible."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUGUSTO

A top-secret memo detailing George W. Bush's proposal to bomb Al
Jazeera is not "outlandish," as the White House claims. The Bush
Administration had been threatening, insulting and imprisoning Al
Jazeera staffers and other unembedded journalists long before Bush
reportedly floated the idea to Tony Blair.

The controversy surrounding conservative lobbyist Jack Abramoff is
creating headaches for red-state and swing-state Republicans and
opportunities for Democrats to turn a national bribery and
influence-peddling scandal into political paydirt.

George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security is dead, thanks to a
remarkable mobilization by progressive groups. Much can be learned from
the way The Campaign for America's Future, labor unions, MoveOn.org and
others worked together to inform citizens and arouse opposition to the
plan.

The big news on any day when President Bush delivers a "major address" regarding Iraq is never what the commander-in-chief says. Bush has been on autopilot for so long now that he does not even bother to say anything new -- even when he is supposedly laying out a strategy for "victory."

That was certainly the case Wednesday, when the president treated an audience of cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to a repeat of every tired cliche he had previously uttered about the war, right down to the clumsy attempt to make a 9-11 link, the ridiculous comparisons with World War II and the don't-bother-me-with-the-facts pledge that, no matter how bad things get, "America will not run." What Bush fails to mention, of course that, with the depth of the quagmire into which he has steered the U.S. military, it's just about impossible to run.

A diginified withdrawal, on the other hand, remains not merely possible but preferable to the Bush approach.

Apartheid education is alive in America and rapidly
increasing in hyper-segregated inner-city schools. And though it's now
fashionable for policy-makers to declare integration a failure,
effective programs across the country still survive--and deserve to thrive.

Gas-guzzling SUVs take a lot of blame, but landfills make stealthy
stealthy contributions to climate change. While they should be
developing innovative waste disposal strategies, corporate-owned
landfills use techniques that generate heat-trapping methane that
accelerate global warming.

Progressive groups that mobilized for the 2004 elections are
now dismissed as failures. But though they were unable to defeat Bush,
grassroots activists are creating waves across the country. They may be
the ticket to Republican defeat and the creation of a new movement.

BUSH: INDICTABLE CO-CONSPIRATOR?

Aiken, SC

With thanks to both Nation columnist Katha Pollitt and a student from Hampton University who called me this morning and would like to remain anonymous, we wanted to alert Nation readers to a seriously under-reported travesty about to take place at Hampton, a historically black school in Hampton, Virginia.

Seven Hampton students are facing expulsion hearings THIS FRIDAY. Their "crime" was distributing "unauthorized" literature criticizing the Bush Administration's policies on AIDS, Hurricane Katrina, homophobia, the Iraq war and the Sudan as part of a national series of student protests on November 2nd. "Unauthorized" flyers are distributed and posted all the time of course--it's only when they feature progressive political content that the administration cracks down. This is a free speech issue, an issue of students' rights, and an antiwar issue!

There are a number of ways you can help but you need to act fast. First, call the school. Let Hampton administrators know that you oppose the chilling of free speech on the Hampton campus. Ask them to drop all charges against the students, recognize the activist club as an official student organization, and craft a free speech policy that doesn't criminalize dissent.

Still going strong at 93, Studs Terkel has produced yet another oral
history, And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc
Jockey.

Nancy Drew has been a fixture in young girls' lives since 1930. But the
continuing appeal of this spunky American icon--never sad, wrinkled or
misunderstood--is both heartwarming and a little scary.

America's Constitution: A Biography examines
America's obsession with the Constitution--its origins, evolution and
interpretation.

The Jewish Century defies the conventional view of
Jews as outsiders and traces their symbiotic relationship with
Christians. A History of the Jews in the Modern World follows
the impact the multitude of journeys that Diaspora Jews have taken on
countries in the modern era.

Ethnic cleansing, chemical weapons, self-appointed executioners: Sound
familiar? The US occupation in Iraq has created conditions just as
bad--if not worse--than Saddam Hussein's ruthless regime. And the
increasingly isolated George W. Bush insists on staying the course.