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America stands on the cusp of a sweeping set of shifts in federal media ownership rules that could dramatically alter the nature of what we see, hear and read, warns Federal Commications Commission member Jonathan S. Adelstein. Dialogue and debate about these proposed changes must be ramped up quickly if the public interest is to be protected.

But first, how about a harmonica solo?

Before delivering his first major policy address at the annual conference of the Future of Music Coalition, Adelstein wowed a crowd of several hundred there by playing a mean harmonica during a performance by Lester Chambers of the groundbreaking 1960s group The Chambers Brothers.

While the death penalty is legal in most of the US, executions are increasingly taking place only in the South, according to the end-of-the-year report from the Death Penalty Information Center. In 2002, 86 percent of the nation's 71 executions took place in the South. Texas led the way as usual with 33 killings, and thereby "accounted for three times as many as the total in the West, Midwest and Northeast states combined, "the group said. See The Nation's http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030106&s=death "> Death Penalty Talking Points for numerous ways you can help register your voice against capital punishment in this country, including Death Row Roll Call , which makes it easy to blast off informed letters of protest on behalf of inmates scheduled to be executed each month.

Darn, but those weapons of mass destruction keep turning up in the wrong places.

Mattie White remembers July 23, 1999, as the day her life was turned upside down.

Dr. Marc answers readers' question every other week. To send a query, click here.

The punk rock explosion of the mid-1970s seized the power of rock-and-roll back from the corporate conglomerates that had warped the music into a flabby, over-produced, stadium-rocking mess.

But it was Joe Strummer who made punk rock more than just an anarchic flail against the dying of the light. With The Clash, Strummer gave punk a militant, internationalist, pro-Black edge that made it matter not just as a musical statement but as a political one.

"It was The Clash that struck the strong political stance that really inspired a lot of people, and within The Clash he was the political engine of the band," explained British singer Billy Bragg.

In Dickens's "A Christmas Carol," Ebenezer Scrooge was forced to view his own death in order to gain some self-awareness of his life as the epitome of cruelty and selfishness.


SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT ON SCHOOLS

Boston

Trent Lott has grudgingly relinquished his grip on the Senate majority
leader post, but that doesn't mean that the Republican Party has purged
"the spirit of Jefferson Davis" that Lott famously

How does a fiercely anticorporate musician feel about participating in a
corporate entertainment system?

They say history repeats itself. But usually not quite so quickly.

As the general strike against President Hugo Chávez entered its
third week in early December, a major TV channel broadcast statements by
baseball hero Andres Galarraga and other celebrit

I went to a reception the other night to celebrate the efforts of a
group called the Innocence Project, which provides legal assistance to
prisoners for whom the technology of DNA testing may n

We now feel warm toward Albert Gore,
Who will not run in aughty-four.
Most candidates, I must admit,
Seem at their best the day they quit.

Talking With Eddie Vedder, Boots Riley, Amy Ray, Carrie Brownstein, Tom Morello

Picture this: you're stranded on a desert island with nothing to comfort
you but sand, sun and, miraculously, the solar-powered sound system that
washed up with you.

So onward into 2003 we go, amid INS roundups of Middle Easterners in
Southern California and the grand hunt for Saddam's "material breaches,"
which could be a song out of Gilbert and Sullivan.

I have a friend who is the only black person living in his luxury
cooperative building. A few years back, there was a
get-to-know-your-neighbor party.

Topic magazine is a kaleidoscopic new British literary review,
still in its infancy and edited by a bunch of precocious Cambridge
graduate students.

Fifteen years ago, rappers like Public Enemy, KRS-One and Queen Latifah
were received as heralds of a new movement.

Russell Simmons, known for decades as Rush to his friends, is of average
height and build for a man his age (45), with a cleanshaven face, bald
dome and light complexion.

In Hicksville, Long Island, on any given Sunday afternoon, pierced and
tattooed teenagers in black clothing gather to listen and watch as
groups of kids like themselves tear their fingertips on

The Chicago-based magazine Punk Planet--nominated for the past
two years in Utne Reader's Alternate Press Awards for "General
Excellence," along with such better-heeled competitio