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Peter Rothberg | The Nation

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Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg

Opposing war, racism, sexism, climate change, economic injustice and high-stakes testing.

Nat'l Media Reform Conference

Media reform still might not seem the sexiest topic but the people at Free Press have figured out to make the process fun. Hosts of what, by all accounts, was a fantastic and inspiring conference/party in Madison, Wisconsin in November of 2003, Free Press is pulling out all the stops for its second confab in St. Louis from May 13th to 15th.

Close to 2,000 attendees are expected to join an illustrious roster of lefty luminaries including Nation publisher Victor Navasky as well as Naomi Klein, John Nichols, Robert McChesney, Patti Smith, Al Franken, Jim Hightower, Amy Goodman, Laura Flanders, David Brock, George Lakoff, Robert Greenwald, Jenny Toomey, and many others for what will be the country's largest media conference.

There'll be panels, plenaries, speeches, book signings, workshops, music, readings and parties, all designed to further the critical goal of media reform in the US. Click here to see a full schedule of events. If you act quickly, you can still reserve a hotel room at a special conference rate. So take this opportunity to participate in America's foremost media reform event--and remind friends and colleagues to do the same.

And, if you can't make it to St. Louis, please consider supporting the work of Free Press, the sponsors of this conference and of a huge array of media reform efforts taking place across America. Click here for membership information and click here for info on how you can get actively involved in the campaign for media reform.

Long Live the Estate Tax!

This past April 13, the House voted 272 to 162 to permanently repeal the estate tax. The Senate will soon make the final decision about the tax, which was introduced in 1916 by reformers who believed that unlimited concentration of wealth and power was threatening the very principle of democracy. Before it's too late, please click here to ask your Senators to stand up to the bullying of the Republican leadership by preserving a fair and just estate tax.

Ask Dr. Frist

Last month, with the Terri Schiavo case at its most hyped, two physicians, who also happen to be Republican legislators, offered free medical advice in an extraordinary melding of their legal and political vocations.

With nothing but a short videotape to aid them, Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), a heart and lung surgeon, and Representative Dave Weldon (R-FL), an internist, felt able to rebut the diagnoses of numerous neurological specialists who had examined Schiavo. The reps contended from their film viewing that she "[seemed] to respond to visual stimuli," cleverly suggesting, without actually asserting so, that the doctors on the case were wrong. Saying he "spoke more as a doctor than a senator," Frist went further, adding that "there seems to be insufficient information to conclude" that Schiavo was in a "persistent vegetative state" that would justify allowing her to die.

But maybe Frist and Weldon are on to something and this diagnoses-by-videotape is the wave of the future. And since these doctor-legislators seem so willing to help out needy citizens, why not consider clicking here to ask if they'd be willing to diagnose your ailment as well. With fifty million Americans currently uninsured, many folks could really use their pro bono expertise.

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No to Bolton

John Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations took a hit on Tuesday when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unexpectedly decided to spend three more weeks investigating allegations against the nominee. Please take this short reprieve to click here and ask your rep to vote no to Bolton. (For info on why Bolton is a terrible choice, read recent pieces by The Nation's UN correspondent Ian Willams and the magazine's Washington editor David Corn.)

Detained Without Charge

Several weeks ago, two 16 year-old Muslim girls, one from Bangladesh and the other from Guinea, were arrested in New York City on the specious grounds that they were potential suicide bombers. Neither of the girls has been formally charged with any crime, but both have been detained indefinitely in facilities far away from their homes and families.

As Ari Berman reported yesterday, few details about the arrests have been released. What we do know, however, suggests that the charges could well be completely unfounded.

While both of the girls are in the United States illegally, both have also lived here for most of their lives. The lead editorial in yesterday's New York Times reveals that investigator's suspicions are curiously based on an essay written by one of the girls in her high school--an essay arguing that suicide is a violation of Islamic law. And while investigators maintain that the two suspects are friends who attended the same radical Mosque where they plotted together, their families say that they never even met before their arrests.

From the dearth of available information, it seems likely that the case of the teenage suicide bombers is simply a routine immigration investigation gone mad. Unfortunately, the rules of immigration hearings require the girls to prove they aren't suicide bombers, rather than the government to prove that they are.

A hearing is being held tomorrow, Thursday, April 14, so please click here to send a letter of support for the girls' lawyers to present to the court. There's also a rally being planned to support the girls. Check out and circulate the details and other info about the case on a new blog created to help defend the girls by clicking here.

Co-written by Mark Hatch-Miller

Say No to Bankruptcy Bill

As early as Wednesday, your Representative in Congress will vote on a hugely important "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill (S. 256) that could literally change your life. The bill was written by representatives of the credit card industry, which made $30 billion in profits in 2004--and is now gunning for more.

The legislation would make it much more difficult for people turning to bankruptcy as a last resort to actually discharge their credit card debts under Chapter 7, which pays off debts by liquidating assets, offering a fresh start financially. Instead, it would force people into Chapter 13 with a rigid 5-year repayment plan, even after liquidating all assets.

In DC, the banking lobby's line about frivolous debtors lacking personal responsibility plays well on both sides of the aisle. But, as Robert Scheer pointed out recently in a typically strong column, "for all of the whining about deadbeats ripping off the system, credit card companies' annual pretax profits have soared two-and-a-half times in the last decade, and last year was their most profitable in more than fifteen years."

The bill is nothing short of a blatant money-grab on the part of a powerful, lucrative industry taking advantage of the current climate in Washington to push through legislation which will hurt many Americans struggling to make ends meet.

If you've got a credit card, you've got a problem with this bill. So click here to protest this legislative travesty and check out DebtSlavery.Org--a coalition organized by Democrats.com, including The Nation--for more info on the bill and how you can work to oppose it before it's too late.

'Wrong Man for the Position'

Adding a powerful establishment voice to the growing campaign against George Bush's appointment of John Bolton to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations, a group of 59 former American diplomats are urging the Senate to reject Bolton's nomination.

Echoing a host of liberal and centrist critics of the nomination, in a letter to Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the diplomats--both Democrats and Republicans--call Bolton, "The wrong man for the position." The letter's criticisms dwell largely on what the ex-diplomats call Bolton's "exceptional record" of opposing American efforts to improve national security through arms control. (For more details on why Bolton is a terrible choice, read recent pieces by The Nation's UN correspondent Ian Willams and the magazine's Washington editor David Corn.)

Bolton is another in a line of extreme in-your-face nominees put forth recently by the White House. It's important to show that they face opposition. Lugar has scheduled hearings on April 7 for the Senate to debate Bolton's nomination. Click here to implore your Senators to oppose the nominee.

Two Years Later

Last week we featured a series of of antiwar events being planned by Nation readers in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and in Memphis, Tennessee to mark this weekend's second anniversary of Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Continuing our countdown to March 19 and the nationwide series of rallies, marches, nonviolent civil disobedience and creative expressions of antiwar sentiment that are expected to meet the occasion, we wanted to highlight another day of events being organized by a Nation reader--Tom Moss--in Hunstville, Alabama.

Sponsored by the North Alabama Peace Network, Veterans For Peace AlabamaChapter, and Pax Christi Huntsville, the coalition asks people to join them from 3:00 to 10:00pm on March 19 at the Flying Monkey Arts Center in Huntsville. Activities will include a Children's Playtime, an Artists' Market, musical performances, photography exhibits, food, poetry and other entertainment. (For more info, email to tmoss@knology.net or call 256-468-5314.)

The antiwar coalition UFPJ reports that there are currently 583 antiwar events planned in cities and towns across the United States--nearly double the number of antiwar actions on the first anniversary of the invasion, a good reflection of the deepening doubts about the war after a disastrous year of continued body counts and billions of dollars wasted on an illegal and immoral occupation.

Click here to check out the UFPJ website for a complete calendar of nationwide happenings, and click here if you have an event to add to the list.

Without DeLay!

We've spent considerable time at The Nation detailing the increasingly muddy ethics trail being traveled by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. And, every day, new details come out demonstrating that DeLay is the most corrupt politician in Congress.

DeLay has violated ethics rules, virtually at will; abused his position as Majority Leader to trample on the legislative process; used illegal corporate contributions to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Texas voters with his anti-democratic re-districting scheme and used tax dollars and government resources for partisan political gain.

Some Republicans are even beginning to worry that he may be a liability. A GOP political consultant close to top lawmakers, including DeLay, told the Washington Post over the weekend: "If death comes from a thousand cuts, Tom DeLay is into a couple hundred, and it's getting up there. The situation is negatively fluid right now for the guy. You start hitting arteries, it only takes a couple."

So, as Public Campaign's (and former Nation editor) Micah Sifry says in a public letter he's circulating, "let's hit an artery." Click here to sign Public Campaign's new petition Without DeLay and help spread the word about Public Campaign's efforts to make DeLay pay for putting himself above the law.

Bonus Blog Link:Click here to read The Daily DeLay, a project of Public Campaign Action Fund, designed to expose Tom "The Hammer" DeLay's anti-democratic, pro-special interest agenda.

Antiwar Events Coast to Coast

Yesterday we featured the peace concert being planned by Nation reader and bassist Brandon Kwiatek in Allentown, Pennsylvania on March 19, which will conclude a series of antiwar vigils scheduled across the Lehigh Valley that day.

Continuing our countdown to the second anniversary of Bush's invasion of Iraq and the nationwide series of rallies, marches, nonviolent civil disobedience and creative expressions of antiwar sentiment that are expected to meet the occasion, we wanted to highlight another event being organized by a Nation reader--Jacob Flowers--in Memphis, Tennessee.

Sponsored by the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, an interfaith, inter-racial organization dedicated to education and advocacy for peace and justice issues operating in Memphis since 1982, the group asks people to join them at a rally at 12:00 noon on March 19 at the First Congregational Church, to be followed by a march to Veterans Plaza in Memphis's Overton Park, where they'll be music, food and more speakers. Flowers asks Nation readers to "help make this the largest antiwar demonstration this city [Memphis] has ever seen." Click here for more info on the event and the Center itself. And if you're in the Memphis area, click here to download a flyer and help get the word out.

As the antiwar coalition UFPJ reports, last year on the first anniversary of the invasion, there were at least 319 antiwar events in cities and towns across the United States. This month, they're looking to increase that number after a disastrous year of continued body counts and billions of dollars wasted on an illegal and immoral occupation.

Watch this space for more info on antiwar events around the country, click here to let us know about any events, and check out the UFPJ website for a complete calendar of nationwide happenings.

Get Out on March 19

It's time to start making plans for what are expected to be a nationwide series of antiwar protests from March 18 to March 20 to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The antiwar coalition United for Peace & Justice is calling for vigils, rallies, marches, nonviolent civil disobedience and creative expressions of antiwar sentiment of all kinds.

As UFPJ reports, last year on the first anniversary of the invasion, there were at least 319 antiwar events in cities and towns across the United States. This month, they're looking to increase that number after a disastrous year of continued body counts and billions of dollars wasted on an illegal and immoral occupation.

In the coming days, we'll be highlighting some of the many grassroots, antiwar efforts taking place on March 19th. Today, I'd like to thank Nation reader and bassist Brandon Kwiatek for alerting us to what's happening in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania where his acoustic duo Real West will stage a free concert at Bethlehem Book Loft & The Caffeine Café from 8:00 to 10:00pm. The concert, called War is a Wonderful Thing: An Evening of Dissent, will be the culmination of a series of antiwar vigils and rallies scheduled across the Lehigh Valley that day.

In the interest of promoting solidarity within the Lehigh Valley progressive movement, Kwiatek writes, a number of local organizations will participate or distribute information during the concert: Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Bethlehem); Progressive Students Alliance (chapters from Lehigh University and Northampton Community College); LEPOCO Peace Center; Moravian College's chapter of Amnesty International-USA.

Watch this space for more info on antiwar events around the country, click here to let us know about any events, and check out the UFPJ website for a complete calendar of nationwide happenings.

Visit Your Rep During President's Week

During the week of President's Day, Senators and Representatives go home on recess. 20/20 Vision and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) are taking advantage of this break to arrange meetings between representatives and their constituents to talk about ending the war in Iraq. And it's not too late to sign up.

As David Corn recently reported in The Nation, Congressional Dems have already begun the fight to end the occupation. Rep. Lynn Wolsey introduced a bill demanding immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and Rep. Marty Meehan is asking for a specific timetable for withdrawal over the next 18 months. However, no real progress can be made on these issues until Democrats and Republicans in both houses start hearing the voices and seeing the faces of the 56 percent of Americans who are now dissatisfied with the way President Bush has handled the war in Iraq, according to a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

As 20/20 Vision reports in its newsletter, "legislators routinely speak about how much more effective it is the hear from constituents in their home districts…meeting three people at home has more impact that 50 meetings here in DC." So click here to sign up for 20/20 Vision and FCNL's Interfaith Lobby Days for Iraq, click here for advice about how to best conduct the lobbying, and click here to learn more about the FCNL's lobbying strategy.

It's also time to start making plans for what are expected to be a nationwide series of antiwar protests on Saturday, March 19, the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The antiwar coalition United for Peace & Justice is calling for vigils, rallies, marches, nonviolent civil disobedience and creative expressions of antiwar sentiment of all kinds. Check out the UFP website for more info.

Co-written by Mark Hatch-Miller.

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