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As the 2004 election draws nearer and George W. Bush's poll numbers grow
shakier, White House operatives are devoting themselves to coddling the
religious right.

EDWARD SAID

Long Island City, NY

Virtually ignored amid boosterish reports of the $13 billion in pledges and grants for Iraq secured by the US at the Madrid conference were the consequences for other impoverished regions. Development officials say that the sums cited by the World Bank and the US as necessary to meet Iraq's needs over four or five years (between $33 and 55 billion) dwarf what other poor, war-torn countries have received in the modern history of aid projects. It could also mean that what aid there is for these countries would effectively dry up.

As economist Jeffrey Sachs recently pointed out, it's crucial that the world development agenda be set by the world, not by the US alone. The Bush Administration obsessively views "every problem through the lens of terror and accordingly considers itself excused from the struggle against poverty, environmental degradation and disease."

As Sachs rightly argues, "The irony is that without solutions to these problems, terrorism is bound to worsen, no matter how many soldiers are thrown at it." More alarming, Sachs continues, "at the same time, the US is starving international initiatives in disease control, development assistance and environmental improvement."

As the Bush White House juggles two political grenades--the Wilson leak and the MIA WMDs--there are two questions: can Bush and his gang prevent detonations...

Nation interns march in New York City and Washington, DC.

As long as firms are willing to hire them, immigrants will come.

From the valuable listserv, " Democracy Dispatches," a project of Demos--the New York City-based Public Policy and Advocacy organization, which tracks and analyzes democracy issues in the states, comes news of a novel way to boost voter turnout.

The " Voter Reward" initiative in Arizona is designed to motivate people to vote by entering those who have cast ballots into a random drawing with a $1 million jackpot. (Before implementing the program, it would be necessary to change the Arizona law, which currently makes it illegal to pay people to get them to vote.)

Mark Osterloh, who helped pass the Arizona Clean Elections statute, is also the mastermind behind this idea. "Opponents will say we are bribing people to vote," he says. "We are not. What we are doing is rewarding behavior we want to encourage. The 'Voter Reward' program is not bribery; it is capitalism at its best." What's next? A recording contract and chance to sing on TV in return for pulling the lever?

What with Bush and his cronies on the road to raking in an unprecedented $200 million this campaign season, I admit it's hard to focus on small ticket outrages. But it's still worth looking at what's going on in South Carolina, where the state Democratic Party is considering allowing corporations to sponsor its next presidential primary.

It turns out that South Carolina is one of only two states that require the state parties to pay for the primaries, rather than picking up the tab itself. And, according to Democratic chief Joe Erwin, raising the estimated $500,000 in a soft economy has been tough. So, Erwin--a Greenville advertising executive--got the idea of soliciting corporate sponsorships, which he describes as a creative takeoff on the way ballparks sell ads on scoreboards or colleges name buildings after companies.

So, corporations could sponsor get-out-the-vote ads or signs outside polling places. According to the Charlotte Observer, the party originally considered allowing corporate sponsors to put their names on the ballot, but Erwin ruled that out. "It just didn't pass the common-sense test," he said.

Kingdom of Shadows, the sixth of Alan Furst's novels of historical espionage fiction, was hard for me to put down--and when I did, I couldn't wait to pick it up again.

The retail food workers strike in California may be the first in a series of battles that could shape the future of labor-management relations throughout the US.

Thanks to USA Today, the public now knows some of what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld really thinks of the war of terrorism. And thanks t...

Ghosts are notorious for getting stuck in time. Having lost track of the
ongoing world, they will revisit certain hours as obsessively as they
haunt a fatal spot.

In a broad square not far from the center of Jakarta, a large obelisk of
concrete soars into the sky.

The best memoirs of recent years reveal "The Way We Live Now" as well as
or better than most contemporary fiction.

Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom have long been pillars of highbrow
conservatism in America.

Devising a fair federal policy for higher education would not be hard.

Opposition to the war among military families is bubbling beneath the surface.

He's an intriguing moral bellwether, Nathaniel Heatwole.

Enter the world of Paul Krugman, a world either dark (the eras of Bush I
and Bush II) or bathed in light (when Bill was king).

Arnold Schwarzenegger has sold himself to his fans as a raging
Republican Terminator.

Paul Wellstone won elections as a progressive by energizing and
mobilizing a large base, staying close to community organizing efforts
of all kinds and fearlessly pressing a bold agenda.

During the two years when he was exploring a bid for the 2000 Democratic
presidential nomination, Paul Wellstone spent a lot of time trying to
figure out how a progressive could get elected to

One reason the Bush Administration gave for going to war in Iraq was
Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to terrorists.