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The Nation

Ivy Leaguers R White Like Us

Imagine looking out your cozy Harvard dorm room only to see a bunch of black folks whoopin' and hollerin' in the Quad. What's an Ivy Leaguer to do except call campus security. So the rent-a-cops arrive only to find -- oops! -- that troublemakers are members of the Black Men's Forum (BMF) and the Association of Black Harvard Women (ABHW), participating in an annual event that includes riotous -- or is it, riot-like -- activities like dodgeball.

Hmm, that would explain why all of them were wearing some form of Harvard paraphanelia.

Of course, all complainants deny even a slightest hint of racism, even of the unconscious, knee-jerk, didn't-really-think-about-it variety. Sure, these equal opportunity party-poopers would have sent "impassioned e-mails" questioning their presence on the public lawn--"and whether they were students at all"--even if hypothetical white hooligans were all wearing their Harvard sweat-shirts.

Bryan Barnhill, the head of BMF, plans to spearhead a campaign called "I am Harvard," to "show that subtle forms of racism exist, such as seeing a group of black people on Harvard property and assuming they don't belong there."

Taking on Dobbs

I had an interesting run in with Lou Dobbs on May 8th. The clip has just become available on my site. Dave Niewert at Orcinus transcribed the key part and kicked off an interesting conversation about Dobbs and macho bullying.

There was also some discussion of this Sunday at the Book SalonThe topic was Blue Grit, my new book, but scroll down and you'll see quite a bit about machismo and cable news. See what you think.

Here's an excerpt of the transcript:

LAURA FLANDERS, AIR AMERICA: I wanted to come back for a minute to the L.A. story, the last two stories. I think if Dr. King were alive today, he would be talking about what happened on L.A. on May 1st. When you talk about abuse, 240 rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas.

We've gone from legal punishment of illegal aliens to physical punishment, and it's not helped by language like yours, Lou, talking about these [marchers] as being illegal aliens…

DOBBS: Laura, Laura, Laura, that's ridiculous.

FLANDERS: They're not aliens, they're people. And the vast majority of people at these marches are utterly legal. They're not aliens, Lou. They're people, and you're dehumanizing them with that language.

Check it out.

Laura Flanders is the author of Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians just out from the Penguin Press.

Russian Journalists Fight for Independent Media

Nadya Azghikkina and I worked together for many years editing a Russian-language feminist newsletter called Vyi i Myi. (You and We was founded by Colette Shulman, who has worked tirelessly for decades on behalf of women and NGOs in Russia.) Today, Nadya is with the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), working to train journalists, especially women, in Russia's underserved provincial cities and regions. Her work also involves defending not only the free speech rights of journalists but what we might call bread and butter issues--ensuring, for example, that journalists get paid and receive the pensions owed them. (A few years ago, Nadya also worked on an issue close to my heart at the moment: organizing a petition to fight an increase in postal rates that would have bankrupted some publications.)

More recently, Nadia has been working at the Union's headquarters on Zubovsky Boulevard to organize the 26th World Congress of Journalists, an international gathering of media professionals, scheduled to open on May 28th in Moscow, (Nadia's office is tiny, crammed with regional newspapers and magazines, old clippings, suffused with cigarette smoke and used tea cups.) But now, on the eve of the World Congress the Federal Property Management Agency, or Rosimushchestvo, is trying to evict Russia's largest journalist association in favor of Russia Today, a state-run English-language satellite television channel created to boost the country's international image. While the dispute centers on the validity of a presidential decree issued in the 1990s that gave the RUJ use of the offices for "infinite and free of charge use," the action and its timing send a disturbing message.

The eviction notice comes on the heels of several other actions aimed at curbing media independence and the dissemination of alternative views.

In mid-April, the police raided the offices of Internews Russia (recently re-registered as the Educated Media Foundation.) EMF has been a Russian-run NGO since the mid-1990s, specializing in training broadcast journalists, technicians and managers. It's also helped local journalists launch television news programs and a documentary series focusing on their own cities and villages, as an alternative news source to the state and Moscow-based channels. The raid on the groups's Moscow offices, during which the police took away all the computers/servers, and boxes of financial documentation, forced them to suspend all training activities. Similarly, on May 11, police raided the offices of the Samara regional edition of Novaya Gazeta, one of the few national independent newspapers left, and confiscated three journalists' computers. (The police claimed they were in search of illegal software.)

In these bleak times for independent media in Russia, what is heartening are signs of solidarity among Russian journalists. A few weeks ago, for example, Tv2, located in the Siberian city of Tomsk, posted an open letter to President Putin in defense of independent media (and specifically in support of the Educated Media Foundation.) Within a few days more than 2000 journalists from almost all Russian regions had signed the petition.

And just a few days ago, all four of the radio correspondents for the Russian News Service, which provides news for three major radio stations serving about 8 million people, submitted letters of resignation. Artem Khan, a correspondent for the Service, said that he and all of his colleagues have walked out because of "censorship" and "pressure" to disseminate pro-Kremlin material from the company's news executives who took control in April.

It is Russian journalists who will wage the most effective protests against attacks on media freedom. It is, after all, their country and their citizens who are being deprived of the independent and free flow of information.

However, these are also times when the support and solidarity of Western colleagues--journalists and editors--is of value. (That path is certainly less intrusive and more welcome than a human rights-challenged US administration lecturing a human-rights challenged Russian government.)

For Western journalists and editors and publishers who wish to support their Russian colleagues, please email to russiapetition@gfmd.info.

Why Won't MoveOn Move on Habeas Corpus?

MoveOn.org is circulating a new survey asking its 3.3 million members to plan the group's "next steps," offering a dozen choices ranging from issues on the national agenda, like ending the Iraq War and climate change, to less mainstream items such as impeachment. But the survey does not even mention Bush's worst domestic transgression: the suspension of habeas corpus and other fundamental rights in last year's Military Commissions Act (MCA).

The omission is particularly glaring because habeas corpus and constitutional rights are one of the top priorities of the netroots activists who comprise the membership of MoveOn.org. In a Democrats.com survey of over 400 netroots activists after the November election, restoring habeas corpus ranked first for legislative priorities - above even Iraq withdrawal. MoveOn members have said "restoring the Constitution" should be one of the top priorities for the Democratic Congress, according to MoveOn spokesperson Jennifer Lindenauer, and several leading bloggers recently pressed Congressional Democrats to jam habeas restoration into a defense spending bill. Restoring habeas "is something that we elected them to get done," blogged MyDD's Matt Stoller. [Update: MoveOn sent out an action alert to members about the issue as well.]

But House Democrats failed to take action. Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton meekly argued Democrats could restore habeas in a "separate bill," a futile strategy since Bush can easily veto stand-alone human rights legislation.

While it may seem like MoveOn is planning its "next steps" with habeas off the radar, Executive Director Eli Pariser says the group simply does not survey all of its campaigns. "Surveying is just a way for us to get a sense of the relative priorities -- absent strategic opportunities that we're sure our members will want to seize," he told me via email. The group is looking to find out where it can "play a constructive role," but they haven not "seen that moment yet," he added.

But if MoveOn keeps holding its fire on habeas corpus, it may wind up looking like the diffident Democrats in Congress who refuse to lead on human rights. The battle lines are already drawn. Most Democrats voted to protect habeas corpus during the MCA fight last year, while Bush backed the bill and will surely veto any attempt to undo it. That is why Congress must attach a human rights provision to essential bills and force Bush's hand. Netroots leaders like MoveOn don't need to wait for the right "moment." They have the power to create the moment, (as I've argued before). An editorial in the St. Petersburg Times recently hammered this point: "If the Democrats were serious about returning the checks and balances to our legal system, they would add a habeas corpus amendment to every vital piece of relevant legislation until the president capitulates or there are enough votes for an override."

In addition to bloggers' activism on this front, there are important efforts by the Alliance for Justice, Amnesty International, Sen. Chris Dodd's Restore-habeas.org, and the ACLU, which launched a high-profile campaign including legislative meetings with bloggers, ads on the New York Times homepage and a MySpace profile for habeas corpus. But these initiatives do not have the financial or political clout of MoveOn, which spent more than every other liberal PAC in the last election cycle except for EMILY's List. But without more activism, especially within the netroots, it looks like habeas corpus may stay on the backburner for MoveOn and the Democratic Congress.

UPDATE (Monday morning): Eli Pariser adds that MoveOn sent out an action alert about restoring habeas corpus in the Defense Authorization bill, an example of how the group has been working with their members on this issue.

UPDATE 2 (Monday afternoon): Reader Leah Adler adds that Working Assets has launched Lawyers for Habeas, a petition drive to rally the legal community around restoring habeas corpus. "This petition was posted in collaboration with Alliance for Justice and Equal Justice Society and needs thousands of members from the legal community across the country to sign up," she explained.

 

Who's Afraid of Jimmy Carter? George Bush

How touchy is the Bush administration about criticism?

Very touchy, indeed, especially if the source of that criticism is a certain former president.

When Jimmy Carter, whose approval ratings dwarf those of George Bush these days, gets to talking about what's wrong with the current president the White House spin machine goes into overdrive.

And Carter has been talking.

He told the conservative Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper Saturday that, "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."

Suggesting that the president has presided over an "overt reversal of America's basic values," Carter drew a clear line of distinction between the current Bush policies and those of another Bush who has occupied the Oval Office, former President George Herbert Walker Bush.

With his misguided approach to the war in Iraq, Carter said, Bush made a "radical departure from all previous administration policies," including those of the president's father.

"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered," explained Carter, who has long been a critic of the Bush administration but whose comments in recent days have been particularly pointed.

In another interview late last week, with the BBC, Carter effectively referred to outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair as Bush's poodle.

Carter criticized Blair's "blind" support of Bush's war in Iraq, suggesting that the British prime minister had been "subservient" to the American president. Noting that Blair's "almost undeviating" allegiance to Bush's Middle East dogmas had done much to legitimize them at precisely the time when they should have been challenged, Carter argued that the prime minister's promotion of "the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq had been a major tragedy for the world."

Lest there be any doubt about his assessment of Blair's contribution to global stability, the Nobel Peace Prize winner termed the prime minister's failure to counter Bush's messianic march to war "abominable."

It is difficult to argue with Carter, not just on the basis of his stature but on the basis of his astute read of the current circumstance. And that's what scares the Bush White House. When a well regarded former president gets specific about the current president's dramatic failures -- and about the damage that is done when foreign leaders align with Bush -- this embattled White House gets tense.

So the president's aides are hitting back, with all the muscle they can muster, at Carter.

"I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there," griped White House spokesman Tony Fratto, as part of an unusually bitter and specific response issued Sunday from Bush's compound in Crawford, Texas.

In what the Associated Press correctly referred to as "a biting rebuke," Fratto said of Carter's observations: "I think it's unfortunate. And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."

The irony is that there is nothing unfortunate about Carter's remarks for the United States. By making it perfectly clear that Americans are unsettled by their president's reckless disregard for the rule of law and common sense at home and abroad, Carter helps to separate Bush from America in the eyes of the world, which is a very, very good thing for the American people.

Of course, then, the Bush White House is not attacking Carter's comments on their merit. Rather, the attack boils down to a suggestion that, even though they represent a rare example of a former president bluntly criticizing a sitting president, Carter's remarks of a little or no consequence.

What is fascinating is that the White House is claiming that Carter is "increasingly irrelevant" by going out of its way to attack him on one of the current president's many days of rest.

It seems that, if Carter really was as "irrelevant" as the Bush White House would have us believe, the president's aides would not be attacking the former president in such immediate and aggressive terms.

The truth is that Carter is relevant, perhaps more so now than ever. Even as Bush's fortunes decline, the need of dissenting voices is great. And Carter's dissents go to the very heart of the darkness that this administration has brought down upon the United States. For a body politic sorely in need of the tonic of truth, Jimmy Carter's comments are not just relevant, they are an essential to the renewal of a country and a planet badly battered by the madness of a 21st-century King George.

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John Nichols' new book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism has been hailed by authors and historians Gore Vidal, Studs Terkel and Howard Zinn for its meticulous research into the intentions of the founders and embraced by activists for its groundbreaking arguments on behalf of presidential accountability. After reviewing recent books on impeachment, Rolling Stone political writer Tim Dickinson, writes in the latest issue of Mother Jones, "John Nichols' nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic, The Genius of Impeachment, stands apart. It concerns itself far less with the particulars of the legal case against Bush and Cheney, and instead combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the "heroic medicine" that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

The Genius of Impeachment can be found at independent bookstores and at www.amazon.com

Defining "Progress" in Iraq

Three months into the job, General David Petraeus says it is difficult to predict, before the full number of troops arrive, if the surge in Baghdad will succeed. And he now says he will not have a definitive answer about prospects for progress by September, when he is to report back to Congress.

But how to define "progress"in Iraq? (And why should the US have the right to decide what progress in Iraq means? Shouldn't we, instead, be given the task of measuring the destruction we have caused and held to account for repairing the human and physical damage we have helped inflict?)

But if one does engage in this defining-progress project, here are some early measurements to consider:

*Iraqis have already defined progress with their feet -- consider that some two million have left or fled their country. And the outflow continues. In Syria, there are estimated to be 1.2 million Iraqi refugees; another 750,000 in Jordan, 100,000 in Egypt, 54,000 in Iran, 40,000 in Lebanon and 10,000 in Turkey. The number of displaced Iraqis still inside that country's borders was given as 1.9 million. This would mean approximately 15 percent of Iraqis have left their homes.

*The Iraqi Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology (COSIT) with the support of UNDP released statistics this week showing a key indicator of progress trending in the wrong direction. Insurgent death squads dumped 234 bodies around Baghdad in the first 11 days of May, a 70.8 percent increase from the 137 bodies dumped around the capital during the first 11 days of April.

*Some 88 violent deaths were reported across Iraq on Wednesday, including 32 people who died the night before when a car bomb exploded near a market in the Shiite area of Abu Saydah northeast of Baghdad.

*A leading British think-tank, Chatham House, reported on Thursday that the surge has failed to reduce overall violence across the country, as insurgent groups have shifted their acts outside Baghdad.

*UN agencies working in Iraq warned that a chronic shortage of drinking water may increase diarrhea rates, particularly among children. Diarrhea is already the second highest single cause of child illness and death in Iraq.

*The survey by the Central Statistical Bureau reports that 43 percent of Iraqis suffer from "absolute poverty" and another 11 percent of them live in "abject poverty."

*The Iraqi parliament has proposed a bill, signed by a majority of members, demanding American troop withdrawal and an end to the occupation. (For those in our Congress who have placed so much stock in the idea of democracy, isn't it time to drop the neo-colonial paternalism and listen to your Iraqi counterparts. As Senator John Kerry put it today, "There are some people who would send our troops to fight and die for democracy and then not honor it.")

But the reality is that for many legislators who refuse to support a timeline for withdrawal, especially Republicans who continue to support their bunkered-in President, the question of how to measure progress in Iraq will not be answered by how many Iraqi children are dying or refugees fleeing. The answer will be the polls in their districts.

This Is What the World Bank Looks Like

Paul Wolfowitz is and always will be the honest face of the World Bank. True, he may have been forced to resign his presidency for using his influence to post his girlfriend with Liz Cheney – that's right, the World Bank employee with whom Wolfowitz was intimate was delegated to "work" with the vice president's daughter in the U.S. State Department's office of nepotism and related affairs. But that bit of petty corruption only confirmed the extent to which he was World Bank material. And his eminent departure from one of the creepiest of global institutions will leave it without an appropriate creep-in-chief.

As the poet, anti-apartheid campaigner and long-time champion of African development Dennis Brutus says, "Wolfowitz's arrogance, his insistence that any problems were the result of his colleagues' actions, never his own, were a perfect match for the World Bank, which has always refused to take responsibility for its own disastrous policies and projects, laying blame instead with the borrowing country, even though the common denominator in so many botched projects, violations of human rights, and failed policy packages has been the presence of the World Bank. The combination of war and economic crimes for which he was responsible, made Wolfowitz an appropriate symbol for the institution."

Brutus is so right. Wolfowitz and the World Bank were made for one another.

When he had finished scheming to – in his words -- "take proper advantage" of the 9-11 attacks by creating the quagmire that is Iraq, there really was no place for Wolfowitz to go but the World Bank. He had the perfect resume: As blind to the suffering of others as George Bush, as foul-mouthed as Dick Cheney, as manipulative as Karl Rove, as delusional as Donald Rumsfeld, he was perfectly qualified for the move from making war on the poor with bombs to making war on the poor with "structural-adjustment" policies.

"The failures of the World Bank's neo-liberal ideology, such as privatization of basic services, user fees for primary education and health, and the rapid deregulation of trade and investment, have been measured in death, marginalization, and impoverishment," explains Kenyan activist Njoki Njehu, one of many critics of the bank's devastating policies in Africa. "Let's hope people look beyond the sensational scandal to see just how right Wolfowitz really was for the World Bank."

When Wolfowitz went to the bank, there were some who said that this ideologue might actually force the institution he was about to head do some good in the world – if only to promote the sort of stability that might further the neoconservative fantasy that it is possible or even preferable to force a one-size-fits-all version of liberal democracy and free markets on the planet. But the "Paul is really a bleeding heart" argument was a comic misread by those who never knew Wolfowitz or the World Bank Group.

Wolfowitz was right when he suggested that the World Bank was a cesspool of corruption. But he never proposed nor even imagined "reforms" that would have made this messy collection of financial institutions into a anything more than what it is: the global equivalent of a mob enforcer coming in to break the knees of the sovereign nations that do not march to the drum beat of the wealthy nations that own it.

It is true that Wolfowitz was a bad fit with the bureaucracy at the World Bank, but it was a stylistic rather than an ideological mismatch. World Bank employees are schooled in social niceties. They do not comb their hair with spit-drenched combs, as Wolfowitz so memorably did in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," and they don't get caught inflating the bank accounts of their significant others.

So Wolfowitz is out. And the World Bank will soon be headed by a more properly-groomed president. But it will never be headed by a more accurate reflection of itself.

We can only hope that Sameer Dossani, the executive director of the 50 Years Is Enough Network, which has led the campaign to expose the dangerous doings of the bank and its partner in crime, the International Monetary Fund, is right when he says: "Paul Wolfowitz, now exposed as a corrupt liar, has been an invaluable asset in exposing the fundamental illegitimacy and institutional corruption of the World Bank. Though we are not sad to see him go, we would like to take a minute to thank him for bringing to light the rampant corruption, favoritism and double standards that help make these institutions tick."

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John Nichols' new book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism has been hailed by authors and historians Gore Vidal, Studs Terkel and Howard Zinn for its meticulous research into the intentions of the founders and embraced by activists for its groundbreaking arguments on behalf of presidential accountability. After reviewing recent books on impeachment, Rolling Stone political writer Tim Dickinson, writes in the latest issue of Mother Jones, "John Nichols' nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic, The Genius of Impeachment, stands apart. It concerns itself far less with the particulars of the legal case against Bush and Cheney, and instead combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the "heroic medicine" that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

The Genius of Impeachment can be found at independent bookstores and at www.amazon.com

Wolfowitz Out: The Spin Doesn't Matter

From the statement of the World Bank's board of directors, announcing the resignation of its president, Paul Wolfowitz:

Over the last three days we have considered carefully the report of the ad hoc group, the associated documents, and the submissions and presentations of Mr. Wolfowitz. Our deliberations were greatly assisted by our discussion with Mr. Wolfowitz. He assured us that he acted ethically and in good faith in what he believed were the best interests of the institution, and we accept that. We also accept that others involved acted ethically and in good faith. At the same time, it is clear from this material that a number of mistakes were made by a number of individuals in handling the matter under consideration, and that the Bank's systems did not prove robust to the strain under which they were placed.

Note that the board does not identify which individuals made mistakes--even after a special panel of the board concluded that Wolfowitz broke the institutions rules when he devised a lucrative compensation package for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, who worked at the Bank. This is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's remark about the Iran-contra scandal: "mistakes were made." He, too, didn't say who in his administration had committed the errors (such as himself). The World Bank, in this instance, took a similar tact: no blame for Wolfowitz. That was the price Wolfowitz demanded for his resignation, and board members it seemed, were quite willing to pay it.

From Wolfowitz's statement:

I am pleased that after reviewing all the evidence the Executive Directors of the World Bank Group have accepted my assurance that I acted ethically and in good faith in what I believed were the best interests of the institution, including protecting the rights of a valued staff member.

The poorest people of the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa deserve the very best that we can deliver. Now it is necessary to find a way to move forward.

To do that, I have concluded that it is in the best interests of those whom this institution serves for that mission to be carried forward under new leadership. Therefore, I am announcing today that I will resign as President of the World Bank Group effective at the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2007).

One question: if Wolfowitz did indeed act "ethically and in good faith," why must he resign?

As I wrote on my own blog:

Words don't matter at this stage. Neither the Bank nor Wolfowitz can spin the scent of scandal from the finale of the Wolfowitz affair. The Bank's board may have accepted his claim that his actions were honorable in order to ease him out--ignoring that a special panel had concluded he broke the rules in arranging for a hefty salary boost for his girlfriend. But Wolfowitz's (forced) departure says more than any explanatory statement from the Bank or from him. Wolfowitz had to leave because of what he did. Still, under his contract, he's entitled to a year's salary of $375,000 and other benefits. If he wants to help the world's poor, perhaps he ought to donate that money to Oxfam.

Or maybe half.

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DON"T FORGET ABOUT HUBRIS: THE INSIDE STORY OF SPIN, SCANDAL, AND THE SELLING OF THE IRAQ WAR, the best-selling book by David Corn and Michael Isikoff. Click here for information on the book. The New York Times calls Hubris "the most comprehensive account of the White House's political machinations" and "fascinating reading." The Washington Post says, "There have been many books about the Iraq war....This one, however, pulls together with unusually shocking clarity the multiple failures of process and statecraft." Tom Brokaw notes Hubris "is a bold and provocative book that will quickly become an explosive part of the national debate on how we got involved in Iraq." Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor of The New Yorker notes, "The selling of Bush's Iraq debacle is one of the most important--and appalling--stories of the last half-century, and Michael Isikoff and David Corn have reported the hell out of it." For highlights from Hubris, click here.

More Trouble in Latte-Land

Today Starbucks faced legal and political trouble from its own workers. On the third anniversary of the founding of the IWW Starbucks Union, baristas in Chicago marched into a shop and told the manager they were signing up. (Starbucks workers have chosen to organize without government-mediated elections, through an interesting model called "solidarity unionism.") Meanwhile, baristas in Grand Rapids, Michigan announced that they were filing a legal complaint against the company for violating their organizing rights through unlawful surveillance and other questionable tactics. All over the world -- Austria, England, Spain and Australia, as well as the United States -- Starbucks workers demonstrated in front of stores to protest the company's union-busting practices.

When you pay $4 for a cup of coffee-flavored foamy milk at Starbucks, part of what you're buying is an illusion of corporate social responsibility. The store exudes a warm glow of righteousness, from the recycled paper napkins to the empathetic messages about sustainable trade and ecological practices (Our farmers are happy! Buy a better lightbulb! Have some more foamy milk!). The workers behind the counter are hoping the public will look beyond all the greenwashing and support their campaign, which has succeeded in raising wages and improving conditions for some workers.

The baristas are asking for better wages (some make as little as $8.75 an hour even in costly Manhattan), guaranteed hours with the option to work full-time and more affordable health insurance. (Despite widely-believed corporate spin to the contrary, Starbucks insures a smaller percentage of its workforce than Wal-Mart.) In New York, the National Labor Relations Board (that bastion of radical left-wingers) has accusedStarbucks of violating workers' freedom of association in about thirty different ways, including illegally firing, threatening and disciplining workers for supporting the union. Managers forbade workers from talking about the union -- even when off-duty -- or wearing union buttons. The trial is in June. I'll be attending, and covering it on this blog, so stay tuned.