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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.

National Conf. on Organized Resistance

The seventh annual National Conference on Organized Resistance--"a space for radical discourse"--is happening this January 24 and 25th on the campus of American University in Washington, DC. Last year's conference featured nearly seventy workshops and panel discussions as well as concerts, parties and tabling space for dozens of radical, youth-oriented groups.

In years past, the conference has played a significant role in coordinating dialogue and strategizing among various components of the social justice movement. This year, NCOR again envisions being a forum for people of all different levels of political involvement with an emphasis on the roots of global economic insecurity. More than 1,000 people converged on Washington in 2003 for a weekend of planning and protest. Click here for more info on this year's events.

Debating Media Ownership--Dec. 15

Capitol Hill observers say that media ownership has been the second most discussed issue by constituents in 2003, trailing only the war on Iraq. This is a remarkable turnaround for an issue--media consolidation--that until recently was of interest only to a select group of watchdogs, theorists and corporate titans.

Next week will see the fourth in a series of free public debates between The Nation and The Economist, two of the world's leading political publications--this one on the question of media regulation and consolidation. Taking place at Columbia University in New York City on Monday, December 15, the event will feature The Nation's John Nichols and the Future of Music Coalition's Jenny Toomey teaming up to debate The Economist's Ben Edwards and the FCC's "Media Bureau" chief W. Kenneth Ferree. The debate will be moderated by WNYC Radio's Brian Lehrer, the very able New York City public radio host and the moderator of two of the first three Nation/Economist debates.

Here are the details:

Monday, December 15, 7:00--9:00pm; Roone Arledge Auditorium, Alfred Lerner Hall; Columbia University--Entrance bet. 114th & 115th Streets on Broadway; New York City.

FREE Admission. No reservations.Please arrive early. Doors open at 6:30pm.

CSPAN has indicated interest in broadcasting the event nationally and WNYC, which is sponsoring the debate, will air the proceedings shortly after it takes place over both its New York airwaves and its website. Watch this space for further info. And check out the Free Press's website for the latest info on the grassroots movement for media democracy.

Co-founded by Nichols and Robert McChesney, Free Press is a national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in media policy debates. The site is a gold-mine of media resources for activists, researchers and educators. Audio clips of remarks by Bill Moyers, Al Franken, Ralph Nader, Naomi Klein, Lori Wallach and Toomey from Free Press's recent national conference are also available. You can also find Nation-compiled links to numerous groups working for a more democratic media including Toomey's Future of Music Coalition--along with a collection of relevant Nation articles--by clicking here.

Stop the NRA

The National Rifle Association recently targeted hundreds of organizations and individuals for having the temerity to have "lent their names and notoriety" to the "anti-gun cause." The NRA has compiled these names on a 19-page blacklist being made available to its membership.

Who's on the list? Sure enough, there's the notorious Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Sean Connery, Julia Roberts, Bruce Springsteen, Mel Brooks and Jimmy Carter. Also Russell Simmons, Missy Elliot, Shania Twain and Dustin Hoffman. The NAACP, NOW, the United Methodist Church, the AARP and the American Jewish Congress are also all featured on this modern-day enemies list.

The anti-gun group Stop The NRA thought that more than just NRA members should see the list. So, they've created a website dedicated to exposing this campaign and are encouraging concerned citizens to sign up for what reasonable Americans should consider an honor roll.

Each year in the US, we lose roughly 28,000 people to gun violence. And, as the Violence Policy Center has documented, Al Qaeda terrorist training manuals note the ease with which one can obtain firearms in the United States--like the .50-caliber rifles that can with precision blow a nine-inch hole in a concrete wall from 100 yards.

Yet, the NRA, emboldened by the strong support it enjoys from the Bush Administration, is currently trying to bully Congress into granting the Association two coveted favors that would also be a blessing for terrorists in our midst: an end to the ban on military-style rapid-fire assault weapons and iron-clad legal protections for gun manufacturers and weapons dealers from virtually all civil lawsuits.

The Stop the NRA campaign has a set of suggestions for helping defeat the NRA's assault on American society: Sign a petition, donate funds to help support anti-NRA advertising nationwide, join with like-minded activists in local groups, lobby your elected reps, watch a special web film and find out much more about a fierce political struggle being waged with potentially dramatic consequences for American citizens.

Fighting for the Soul of Globalization

As Sarah Anderson explains in a Nation web report, the outcome of the Miami trade talks represents a major failure for the Bush Administration. After nine years of insisting that all thirty-four countries must sign on to a comprehensive agreement or else be denied critical market access, the US team conceded to pressure from Brazil and other nations and significantly hollowed out the FTAA in order to get a deal done.

Meanwhile, activists have been doing their best to build a movement for social change, which hasn't been easy in Miami. Thousands of uniformed officers, drawn from a total of forty different law enforcement agencies, aggressively intimidated activists throughout the week. On Thursday, the police refused access to downtown Miami to nearly ninety buses carrying retirees who were there to participate in the permitted march and rally.

For the first three days leading up to the summit, as Anderson reports, the dozens of teach-ins held throughout downtown Miami were regularly surrounded by cops on boats, bikes and horses, which (no joke) sport their own riot helmets with plexiglass face-shields. And on Thursday, police in riot gear fired rubber bullets and canisters of chemical spray at thousands of peaceful demonstrators gathered in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers.

By the end of the week, medics for the direct action protesters reported more than 100 injuries from tear gas and rubber bullets fired by the police while law enforcement agencies reported at least 141 arrests.

See Anderson's two web reports, her recent Nation magazine editorial, written with John Cavanagh, and the sampling of pieces below for background about the FTAA and what's happening in Miami.

FTAA Protesters Describe Police State Tactics by Maya Bell, The Orlando Sentinel, November 21.

Democracy Now! Special Report: Mayhem in Miami, November 21

Police Gas Miami Trade Protestors by Michael Christie, Reuters, November 20

Protesters Tell A Different Tale of Free Trade by John Thor-Dahlburg, Los Angeles Times, November 20

Trade Talks Harmful to Health by Gustavo Gonzalez, Inter-American Press Service, November 20

FTAA/Miami: Consider the EU by Sarah Anderson, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, November 19

Click here to sign the Free Press petition to stop the FTAA. The petition will be delivered to Congress and US Trade Representatives.

And check out Global Trade Watch's FTAA page for resources and this anti-FTAA site for continued updates on how you can help resist the neoliberal agenda in the Americas.

Ten Years of NAFTA--Nov. 20

In recognition of the tenth anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), The National Association of Manufacturers, Public Citizen and The Nation will host a debate with participants from Canada, Mexico and the US on the results of NAFTA and the future of trade in the hemisphere.

Taking place in the heart of downtown Miami, just blocks from the FTAA Ministerial meetings and on the heels of what's expected to be a large anti-FTAA march with associated actions that day, the debate will feature some of the foremost critics and proponents of the NAFTA/FTAA agenda directly debating the very nature of globalization.

A Debate on Ten Years of NAFTA

Thursday, November 20

8:00-9:30pmFirst United Methodist Church400 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Florida(Four blocks from the Inter-Continental Hotel/Hyatt)

Featuring:

Lori Wallach, Director, Global Trade Watch (US)

Naomi Klein, Nation columnist, author (Canada)

Alberto Arroyo, RMALC (Mexico)

vs.

Frank Vargo, President, NAM (US)

Peter Clark, Canadian trade consultant (Canada)

Luis de la Calle, former NAFTA negotiator (Mexico)

Moderated by Jane Bussey,International trade reporter, The Miami Herald

FREE Admission. Please arrive early.(Spanish translation provided.)

Presented by Public Citizen and the National Association of Manufacturers and co-sponsored by The Nation magazine.

Uncovered: The Truth About Iraq

The recent founding of the Committee for the Republic is yet another sign of how even mainstream members of the conservative elite are waking up to George W's (mis)leading of the country into ruin. Created to ignite a discussion in the establishment about America's lurch toward empire, the Committee includes numerous prominent Republicans, like former counsel to first President Bush C. Boyden Gray.

An explosive new documentary film offers far more proof, if any was still necessary, that the Bush Administration's extremism is severely compromising America's national security interests. That's why Rand Beers, a National Security Council adviser to five Presidential Administrations, including those of Reagan and Bush 41, recently resigned in disgust as Bush's special counterrorism assistant.

You can hear Beers make his case in "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War," a sixty-minute documentary directed and produced by award-winning film-maker Robert Greenwald. "Uncovered" takes you behind the scenes, as outraged CIA, Pentagon and foreign service experts reveal the lies, misstatements and exaggerations employed by the Bush Administration in the run-up to war.

Featuring never-before-seen interviews with over 20 national security experts--including former Ambassador Joe Wilson; ex CIA chief Stansfield Turner; weapons inspector David Albright; CIA operative Robert Baer; former Ambassador to Greece John Brady Kiesling, who resigned in protest against the invasion of Iraq, and The Nation's own David Corn--"Uncovered" is a compelling call to action in 2004.

Public screenings will be held across the country, including one hosted by Alternet on November 19 in San Francisco. (Click here for more info.)

And in an unprecedented collaboration, Moveon.org, The Center for American Progress, The Nation, Alternet, Buzzflash and Working Assets are teaming up to promote sales of DVD copies to the public as inexpensively as possible.

Buy a copy and host your own screening. It's only $14.95, including shipping. Show it to friends, family, colleagues or students--at a school or community center, an American Legion Hall, a local library or a church, temple or mosque. Or ask your local chapter of the ACLU, United for Peace and Justice, the People for the American Way, IndyMedia, Students Against the War or Amnesty International to co-host a screening with you.

Putting this film on America's radar is a strong step toward fostering regime change in the United States.

Help Save Reproductive Rights

The Senate voted Tuesday to ban so-called "partial-birth" abortions, marking the end of eight years of legislative skirmishes and the beginning of a major court battle, which could begin even before President Bush signs the bill into law, which he's said he'll do.

This will become the first federal ban on a specific abortion method since a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion was established by the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

As Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in her weblog, this bill is just the latest in a series of increasingly aggressive assaults on women that Bush and his Administration have been launching since he took office. As abortion-rights activists like NARAL's Kate Michelman are pointing out, no one should be fooled as to the real intentions of this bill's sponsors: they want to take away a woman's right to choose.

Fortunately, there are numerous groups mobilizing in opposition: The Feminist Campus Network is planning protests and lobbying campaigns and is helping with what organizers hope will be a good, old-fashioned, massive march on Washington on April 25. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, headquartered in Washington, DC, works with twenty-two affiliates in states nationwide to conduct educational, lobbying and media efforts. NARAL and Planned Parenthood are both in the trenches slugging it out with the Bush appointees looking to choke off funding for virtually all social programs. The Abortion Access Project is increasing abortion services by training new abortion providers. And the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League is promoting good tips on combating the radical right's toxic effect on public policy.

Investigate White House Deceptions

According to a recent report by the EPA's own inspector general, the Bush Administration instructed the agency to give the public misleading information in the days following the September 11 attack, telling New Yorkers the air was safe to breathe when reliable information on air quality was unavailable. The agency was even ordered to remove helpful tips from its press releases, such as ways to clean indoor areas and information on the effects of the contaminants.

In an interview with New York Newsday's terrific science reporter Laurie Garret from last August, Dr. Stephen Levin, director of the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program at Mount Sinai Medical Center, called the report "shocking." "It's an outrageous interference in the role of the public-health agencies that were established to protect the people," Levin said of the Bush Administration's alleged influence over the EPA.

This tendency to distort the truth has been shown to be a hallmark of this Administration, whether the issue is clean air, global warming, tax cuts, trade policy or weapons of mass destruction. (See David Corn's new book The Lies of George Bush for an exhaustive survey of the Bush Team's mendacity.)

Fortunately, the lies seem to sticking more and more to an Administration that has been called "the worst government the US has ever had in its more than 200 years of history," by Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof, another longtime member of the mainstream establishment horrified by the Bush Administration's extremism and deceit. (Click here to read Katrina vanden Heuvel's account of Akerlof's dissent from her weblog Editor's Cut.)

A host of New York Democrats are trying to call the White House to account for its air-quality cover-up. Rep. Jerry Nadler, backed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has recently demanded a Congressional investigation into the EPA's handing of the issue, noting that New York City residents and workers continue to breathe in World Trade Center contaminants because of the EPA's false reassurances about air quality.

Please support Nadler's call for a bipartisan probe into who ordered the EPA to lie to New Yorkers after September 11. If you need to get your blood boiling first, click here to read the EPA Inspector General's full report. Then send a letter to your elected reps. It'll take about sixty seconds with The Nation's new activist tool-kit. And it really may help put this issue on the national agenda.

Rumsfeld Should Go!

Having elbowed the State Department aside and demanded full authority for overseeing the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be held accountable for the problems facing the US occupation, which include mounting US and Iraqi casualties, an increasingly sophisticated insurgency, rampant street crime and costs exceeding one billion dollars a week.

The Nation said it last April and it's more true than ever before: "The Defense Secretary should resign--now. Although George W. Bush is ultimately responsible for the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq, it is Donald Rumsfeld who is the Cabinet member directly charged with planning and carrying out the nation's wars." And he should take Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle with him.

As the Washington Post reported last week, Rumsfeld appears to be losing political support most dramatically on Capitol Hill, where many in Congress, even some conservative Republicans, are expressing concern about his handling of Iraq and his continued in-fighting with many in the military establishment. "Winning the peace is a lot different than winning the war," said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). Even the conservative Weekly Standard, now doing its own flip-flop, has taken aim at Rumsfeld calling him "mulish" and the "Secretary of Stubborness."

A number of public interest groups, including Move.On, Win Without War and True Majority, have banded together to help channel public outrage over Rumsfeld and his policies to the pols in Washington, who may finally be ready to hear this message. Click here to send a letter to your reps urging them to support calls for Rumsfeld's resignation and to withhold funding Bush's $87 billion blank-check request unless his Iraq policy is dramatically altered.

Dirty Tricks in the War on Terror?

The rising death toll in Iraq, Israel and Palestine has kept media coverage of the War on Terror focused squarely on the Middle East. Lost in this reporting are serious allegations concerning the Philippines--a chief ally of the US in its global fight with Islamic fundamentalism.

As Nation columnist Naomi Klein recently detailed, on July 27, three hundred soldiers of the Philippine Army rigged a Manila shopping mall with explosives in an act of protest against their superiors. The story quickly faded from view and with it the serious allegations made by the insurgent troops, among them the startling charge that the Philippine government and army had themselves engineered terrorist bombings, which they then blamed on Islamic terrorist groups in an elaborate plot to justify increased military aid from the United States.

The mutineers insisted they were not interested in taking power but only wanted to expose a top-level conspiracy. When Philippine President Gloria Arroyo promised to launch a full investigation into the allegations, the mutiny ended peacefully. And, as Klein wrote, though the soldiers' tactics were widely condemned in the Philippines, there was widespread recognition, even inside the military, that their claims were "valid and legitimate," as retired Navy Capt. Danilo Vizmanos told her.

Especially given that Southeast Asia looks like it could quickly become the next front in America's War on Terror, it's particularly important not to let these charges drop. Writing members of the House Foreign Relations Committee can't hurt. Click here to access the Nation's Congressional directory database. Contacting the media could also be a big help. The Nation has created an easy way for you to write, call or email your local media about this story letting them know that the issue needs to be reported, examined and debated.

Click here to send a letter to your local daily or weekly newspaper, talk-radio program or public affairs television station. And tell any print pub you contact that if they don't have the resources to devote to this important story, they should consider reprinting Klein's Nation column, which is available at very reasonable rates. (Click here for reprint info.)

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