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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.

Congress Meets Wall Street

Tonight's State of the Union address, like most, will be far more notable for what is not said, than what is. The true state of the union--genuine measures of the health of our democracy--will be carefully avoided.

A striking new poster produced by Public Campaign better captures the spirit of reality, showing a photo of President Bush speaking to the merged floors of Congress and the stock market--or what Public Campaign likes to call the trading floor of Congress, where politicians exchange US tax dollars for campaign contributions from wealthy special interests.

Beneath the photo are a series of thirteen charts detailing how massive corporate campaign contributions have essentially bought important arms of the government, what they're getting for their investments and what the vast majority of Americans pay in higher taxes, dirty air and water as a consequence. The poster is available now. It makes for a great gift, especially to a school or library. And check out the Nation Online's special section on electoral reform activism for ways you can get involved in the struggle for fair elections.

Thirty Years of Freedom of Choice

On the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the number of US abortion providers has fallen to its lowest level in three decades, a trend many physicians ascribe to a hostile political climate, the surge of hospital mergers and a lack of enthusiasm for teaching the procedure at most medical schools.

This info was in a new survey released on the eve of today's anniversary by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. The Institute also found, in this age of legalized abortion, that 87 percent of the counties in the United States do not have a single abortion provider! And things will likely get worse with most centers of political power in the US currently occupied by anti-choice hardliners.

Fortunately, there are numerous organizations taking effective action to help preserve and expand women's right to reproductive choice. Joining one of them today would be a good way to mark the anniversary's importance. Click here for a listing of links to groups as well as select Nation articles, essays and columns, including Katha Pollitt and Jennifer Baumgardner's Open Letter About Contraception.

The Dream and Beyond

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously came out against the Vietnam War the year before he was assassinated in April, 1968. In a http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0120-03.htm "> fitting tribute from today's Los Angeles Times, David Garrow, King's Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, asks us to acknowledge what King himself would be doing almost every waking hour, were he still alive today at age 74: organizing mass demonstrations against a US invasion of Iraq.

Cities For Peace

As the troop buildup continues, the antiwar movement has gone from emerging to here. Ruth Rosen was particularly optimistic in an op-ed in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle. The surge of organizing is remarkable given that war has not yet begun, nor it is absolutely certain that it will. There are marches, teach-ins and protests being feverishly planned, including what will likely be a big one scheduled for DC this Saturday. As Esther Kaplan said in a recent Nation article, the strength of the opposition is not its unity, but its variety, as a raft of groups with different politics employ a diversity of tactics.

United For Peace has been a pivotal center of organizing since its founding late last year. An ecumenical network of coalitions, the UFP site is the best place to see the wide pantheon of upcoming antiwar protests. And organizers everywhere are invited to post info on their particular projects and events. A related campaign, Cities For Peace, was recently successful in convincing its 34th US city council to adopt a resolution against an invasion of Iraq.

A rapidly growing network working to convince civic bodies to pass antiwar resolutions, Cities For Peace is a collection of educators, activists and community, religious and business leaders, all united in their joint opposition to Bush's call for war. Local resolutions, of course, have no role in shaping Federal policy, but they are significant in underscoring the widespread opposition to US military action against Iraq. These resolutions also serve to highlight the impact of the cost that war will have on city and state budgets and critical social services. Check out CFP and see how to launch a resolution campaign in your community.

And watch this space for much more about antiwar initiatives.

War is Not Inevitable

Regardless of the outcome of weapons inspections, the Bush Administration seems poised to soon launch an invasion of Iraq. Join Tony Kushner, http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/bio.mhtml?id=22 "> Katha Pollitt , Janeane Garofalo, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Edward Said and many others in endorsing the revitalized Campaign for Peace & Democracy's call for a new, democratic foreign policy that opposes both Saddam Hussein and a US invasion of Iraq. And watch this space for much more about upcoming antiwar plans.

Death Penalty Talking Points

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.

Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Only three days left before Christmas but there's still more than enough time to finish your shopping. Here are a few ideas for the activists on your gift list:

Global Exchange offers a fair-trade marketplace with free overnight shipping until 5:00pm tomorrow. Buy dark roast http://store.globalexchange.org/cubacoffee.html ">Cuban coffee; a http://store.globalexchange.org/gbsp.html ">Gourmet Snacker's Paradise Basket featuring Tibetan Nettle Salsa and Honduran cashews; http://store.globalexchange.org/jewelry.html ">Guatemalan jewelry, http://store.globalexchange.org/clothing.html ">Indian clothing or http://store.globalexchange.org/cocoacamino.html ">Cocoa Camino chocolate produced by small family farmers who own and operate organic cocoa co-operatives in the Dominican Republic and Paraguay

The GAS-CD, with liner notes by Naomi Klein, is an eclectic collection of music featuring Gil Scott-Heron, the Barenaked Ladies, Michael Franti, the Tragically Hip, Jello Biafra, Bruce Cockburn, Sarah Harmer and many others. A fundraising project launched to support the movement against corporate globalization, all US proceeds are being donated to a worthy group of recipients, including The Nation.

Naomi Klein's new collection of essays, http://www.fencesfund.org/book.shtml ">Fences and Windows, bringing together two years of eyewitness commentary written at globalization demonstrations and economic summits around the world, should sit particularly well with the young activists on your list. Plus, royalties are being donated to The Fences Fund, a new non-profit organization that provides financial support to grassroots activists resisting privatization around the world.

Part coffee-table book, part protest chronicle http://www.centerlanepress.com/book.html ">Protest In The Land of Plenty is a unique compilation of 222 often striking photographs taken at more than forty events in the US over the last few years with a strong emphasis on the globalization protests.

http://www.sweatx.net/ ">Sweat-X offers great gifts, especially for those who care where their clothes come from. All Sweat-X clothing is made in Los Angeles by teamX inc., an employee owned, and unionized garment factory, which is committed to paying a fair wage to its entire work-force. Sweat-X believes that garment workers do not have to be exploited in order to operate a financially successful apparel factory. Help prove them right by purchasing from them today.

The "Emperor Dubya, world's biggest terrorist," T-shirt is currently the 17th biggest seller out of thousands of shirts available at http://www.t-shirtcountdown.com/t-shirts/politics.html ">T-ShirtCountdown.com. Also check out http://altahemp.com/political.html ">ShirtMagic, a more radical clothing company, specializing in cutting-edge political content, which produces all its apparel with hemp and organic cotton.

And, of course, a https://ssl.thenation.com/gift.mhtml ">gift subscription to The Nation is always a good idea. Recent releases by http://www.nationbooks.org/ ">NationBooks like Dilip Hiro's Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm and Mike Gray's Busted also offer numerous gift possibilities.

Who in 2004?

With Al Gore bowing out of the 2004 presidential race, the field for Democratic contenders is wide open. In a mock people's primary, WorkingForChange is asking the public who it would like to see running for president in 2004. Is Nader a spoiler or a savior? Can Kerry beat the Bush machine? Does Dean have a chance? Can Daschle ever redeem himself? Tell the Presidential hopefuls themselves what you think. It's easy to email your favorite candidate, urging him or her to run or, more importantly, in the case of someone like Lieberman, not to run. There's even a way to draft your own candidate, be it Michael Moore, Bill Moyers, Oprah Winfrey or Ann Richards. And, after that, check out the Center for Voting and Democracy for ways to get involved in the fight for instant run-off voting, a long overdue electoral reform that would open up the US's two-party system and help allow people outside of the world of moneyed politics to mount legitimate electoral challenges.

Thank You, Philip Berrigan

Thousands of mourners braved sub-freezing temperatures in West Baltimore on Monday to say farewell to an infantry lieutenant turned Roman Catholic priest, remembered as a father, peace activist and prisoner of conscience. For a fitting appreciation of the life and legacy of legendary social justice activist Philip Berrigan, check out this moving tribute by James Carroll from yesterday's Boston Globe.

Winning Without War

President Bush has agreed that war with Iraq should be the very last resort. But, as weapons inspectors move into high-gear, senior members of the White House seem off-message in their public determination to invade Iraq regardless of the inspection's outcome. And though it's difficult to believe Bush is sincere, it's still worth trying to hold his Administration accountable to his words.

Toward that end, MoveOn.org is sponsoring a nationwide petition drive calling for the Administration to give inspections and diplomacy a chance. The call is picking up steam with close to 100,000 signatures in little more than four days.

The petition will be presented to President Bush, Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It'll also be publicized via national newspaper ads starting with one in The New York Times this week. Sign the petition today. You can also help Move.On place more ads with a donation or volunteer to help out in a variety of ways.

*****

All respect to legendary antiwar and social justice activist Philip Berrigan , who passed away Friday in Baltimore, MD, surrounded by thirty friends and family-members. During his forty years of activism , eleven of them spent in prison, all for non-violent civil disobedience, Berrigan focused on building an actual community as a model for the sustainable world he was working to create. His legacy can best be seen in the continuing work of Jonah House , the community he co-founded in 1973 as a haven and resource for Vietnam War protesters.

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