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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.

Help Defend the 'Roadless Rule'

In his last year in office, President Bill Clinton passed the so-called Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a conservation initiative that protected 58.5 million acres of wild national forest land from commercial logging and road-building. The rule was enacted with widespread public support, generating 1.5 million positive comments from US citizens who praised the effort to protect the last remaining wild forest lands.

On July 12, the Bush Administration reversed its pledge not to dismantle these environmental protections, announcing a wholesale weakening of the rule that puts the fate of our national forests in the hands of state governments. 

Since it took office, the Bush White House has been quietly undermining the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. But now the President's proposal will openly allow timber, oil, and mining interests to build roads in these last protected areas in order to facilitate logging.

As the Center for American Progress showed recently on its website, this Administration decision has sparked editorial outrage nationwide, suggesting widespread public opposition to this latest assault on the environment. The lead from the Kansas City Star's editorial of July 15 is a representative example: "In another payoff to campaign contributors, the Bush Administration has swept aside federal protections for the nation's forests. The result will be chopped-up forests in many parts of the country, particularly in the West where most untouched forests remain."

Or this from the Louisville Courier-Journal of the same day: "From the people who produced Iraq World--a $100 billion mess that has claimed thousands of lives in a war based on false premises and shoddy planning--now comes Timber World."

The Nation shares this outrage and has joined a coalition of groups--including the Sierra Club and 20/20 Vision--sponsoring a national letter-writing campaign to Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. Write Bosworth today to make it clear to the Bush Administration that Americans oppose the wholesale destruction of America's last wild forests.

Click here to send Bosworth a note and click here to let more people know about this latest outrage. The Administration is counting on getting this done under-the-radar. Don't let them.

Counter-Convention 2004

With Boston in the books, progressives can now get ready for some serious protesting when the GOP hits the unlikely shores of New York City for its convention, beginning on August 30. There are scores of demonstrations, marches, protests, vigils, concerts, panels, presentations and parties planned in opposition to George Bush's visit and his Administration's reactionary extremism. (Probably the largest single march will take place on August 29.)

Watch this space in the coming days for info on what's planned and click here to check out CounterConvention.Org, a new website designed to facilitate and highlight organizing against this year's Republican National Convention.

Protest Pit is a Dark, Shadowy Place

Many Americans oppose the war in Iraq, and they want to vote for a party that will bring the troops home. The Democratic Party has not promised to do that, which is why antiwar protesters have gathered in Boston.

They had hoped to stage a series of peaceful protests, to show the Democrats, who are holding their convention in Boston this week, how strongly they feel. The problem is that organizers of the convention have said protesters can gather only in a large wire cage that has been built under Boston's elevated train tracks. It has one entrance and one exit, and is topped by razor wire. As AP reporter Mark Jewell wrote, "The maze of overhead netting, chain link fencing and razor wire couldn't be further in comfort from the high-tech confines of the arena stage where John Kerry is to accept the Democratic nomination for president."

Click here to read a report on the DNC Protest Pit by Caroline Overington from the Sydney Morning Herald and click here to listen to Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!, which is broadcasting live reports on what's happening on the streets of Boston.

DNC Activism

Though they won't come close to matching the intensity or volume of expected protests at the Republican National Convention in New York City at the end of August, there are numerous progressive demonstrations taking place all over Boston this week as the Democrats convene.

The Boston Social Forum is winding down today after a standing-room-only weekend of alternative networking, performances, discussions and debates. On Monday, the Black Tea Society will sponsor a rally against police brutality, prison abuse and the Patriot Act from 10 am to 12 noon on the Boston Common, followed by a march to the Fleet Center; Dennis Kucinich and his supporters will hold a public forum on Civil Liberties at 12 noon at St. Paul's Church on Tremont Street and the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union will host an Alternative Freedom Trail Tour through Boston from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.

On Tuesday, the American Friends Service Committee will sponsor the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit opposing US war in Iraq from 9:00am to 9:00pm in Copley Square with speakers and music starting at 7:30pm. And on Wednesday, the Campaign for America's Future and The Nation team up to present a forum on Iraq, the US and the Democrats featuring Katrina vanden Heuvel, Joe Wilson, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Gail Smith and Tom Andrews. Watch this space and click here for more info on planned events in Boston.

Bonus Media Link: Click here to read Anne-Marie O'Connor's July 24th Los Angeles Times op-ed surveying the activist community for its views on protesting at this year's DNC.

The Boston Social Forum

As the media world prepares to head to Boston for the Democratic National Convention next week, one of the most interesting related events is likely to receive little coverage outside of the invaluable IndyMedia sites and alternative radio and TV outfits like Democracy Now! and Free Speech TV.

Planned for this coming weekend, July 23rd to 25th, the Boston Social Forum will feature workshops, break-out sessions, presentations, panels and parties, all designed to hash out a helpful vision of how progressives can better work together to promote our common goals and interests. (Click here to register and for more info and click here if you're interesting in volunteering.)

Taking place on the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, the BSF has hundreds of events and exhibits planned for the three-day confab. Confirmed speakers include Jim Hightower, Angela Davis, Sonia Sanchez, Manning Marable, Maude Barlow, Walden Bello, Harry Belafonte, Frances Moore Lappe, Michael Lerner and many others. Other special BSF events include a Saturday afternoon screening of John Sayle's new film, followed by a discussion with the director; an Alternative Media Summit being organized by Take Back the Media and a benefit concert on Saturday night in Cambridge featuring Billy Bragg, the Reagan Babies, the Foundation and Juliana Hatfield.

The BSF--co-sponsored by The Nation along with scores of other good outfits, organizations and publications--promises a good start to what will hopefully a fruitful period of collaboration between progressive groups. So check it out if you'll be in Beantown this weekend.

Genocide in Darfur

The Sudanese government is directly responsible for crimes against humanity in its strife-torn western region of Darfur, including the widespread rape of women, Amnesty International charged yesterday in a stinging report.

Refugees from Darfur described a pattern of "systematic and unlawful attacks" against civilians by both a government-sponsored Arab militia and the Sudanese military forces, the international London-based human-rights group said.

Ten years ago, the international community stood by as the Rwandan genocide claimed 800,000 lives. Today, as world leaders remember that human catastrophe with empty expressions of "Never Again," the people of Sudan face a similar fate. In concert with groups like Africa Action as well as the Congressional Black Caucus, The Nation is sponsoring a petition drive calling on Colin Powell as secretary of state to immediately recognize the genocide occurring in Darfur and organize internationally to bring it to an end. Click here to add your name.

Amnesty is calling for an end to the conflict, better protection of civilians, disarmament of the paramilitaries, trials for those carrying out the attacks, and the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to examine war crimes in Darfur. Click here to find out more about AI's work on this issue, click here to read Salih Booker and Ann Louise Colgan's recent Nation editorial for background on Darfur and click here to read Sudan expert Eric Reeves' Nation magazine article, Rapacious Instincts in Sudan, from the magazine's June 4, 2001 issue, for a broader look at the country's political troubles.

An Animated Ashcroft

Seeking to bolster support for his USA Patriot Act against Congressional attempts to weaken it, Attorney General John Ashcroft recently called the Act "al-Qaeda's worst nightmare." and delivered a 29-page report to Congress citing ways in which the Act has, according to Ashcroft, been instrumental in helping to combat terrorism.

The Patriot Act, passed overwhelmingly by Congress in the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks, gave the government significant new powers to conduct searches and surveillance in terrorism investigations and allowed more information sharing among law enforcement agencies.

The release of Ashcroft's report is part of an effort by the Bush Administration to shore up support for the law in the wake of numerous reports and critics's suggestions that many of the Act's provisions are both ineffective and unconstitutional.

One of the most effective (and creative) critiques of the abuses of the Ashcroft Justice Department was recently released by the DC-based group Alliance for Justice, a national association of environmental, civil rights, mental health, women's, children's and consumer advocacy organizations. AFJ has created an online animated movie, Spy-der-man, which uses humor to convey the grave danger of Ashcroft's intrusions on free speech, privacy, due process and religious pluralism.

Click here to watch the movie. It's fun and informative. And click here to sign the AFJ's petition urging Ashcroft to resign.

Support WomanCare

Have you heard about the recent arson at the WomanCare clinic in Lake Fort Worth, FL? A vicious fire attack destroyed the facility on July 2nd. This is the kind of home-grown American terrorism that doesn't get a whole lot of attention. The Concord Feminist Health Center in New Hampshire--which suffered an arson attack itself in 2000--is organizing a campaign asking people to send donations to help the clinic get back on its feet. It's critical to let those on the frontlines of care know that they have support and that the pro-choice movement won't let the anti-choicers win a war of attrition through violence.

To contribute, please make out a check of whatever amount is affordable to "WCWP Women's Relief Fund" and mail it to: WomanCare of West Palm, 1622 North Federal Highway, West Palm Beach FL 33460. And click here and here to keep up with the latest developments in the fight for reproductive freedom in the US.

Unequal Treatment

Thanks to the Bush Administration, tens of thousands of women serving abroad in the US military are being denied their freedoms, even as they are asked to fight to defend ours.

As NARAL points out on its very useful website, American servicewomen and female military dependents are currently banned from accessing abortion services--even when using their own money--at US military medical facilities overseas. They don't even have the same right Medicaid recipients do to public support in cases of rape or incest.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe have proposed a provision in the Defense Authorization Act that seeks to rectify at least part of these deplorable, and probably unconstitutional, conditions by allowing servicewomen who are victims of rape to receive abortion care. Given recent reports that sexual-assault cases are on the rise in the military, this is a particularly important time to demand that all women in the military be granted the same reproductive rights as their civilian counterparts.

Click here to support the Boxer-Snow provision, click here to receive news from NARAL's Choice Action Network and click here to support NARAL's work toward full reproductive freedom for all women.

Unbrand America

This July Fourth, the pioneering Adbusters magazine is launching a blast of symbolic disobedience by highlighting the dramatic degree to which American democracy has been undermined and taken over by and for the interests of US corporations. Click here for five ways you can get involved.

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