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The Nation

September 25, 2009
The Nation

Hampshire Students for Justice in Palestine defy Dershowitz and plan first national campus Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions conference.

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September 25, 2009
John Nichols
John Nichols

The online activist group MoveOn.org, which experienced its mostexplosive growth when it emerged as a focal point for opposition to thewar in Iraq, has been criticized for failing to adopt an anti-warposition with regard to the increasingly deadly and ineffectual USoccupation of Afghanistan.

Now, however, the 4.2-million member group has made a tentative movetoward supporting an Afghanistan exit strategy.

In a online e-blast to activists, MoveOn organizers argued Fridayagainst the deployment of more US troops to Afghanistan and for thedevelopment of "a clear exit strategy."

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John Nichols
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September 25, 2009
Jon Wiener
Jon Wiener

Thursday was a "Day of Action" against draconian budget cuts at the University of California campuses, and thousands of people rallied in protest at all ten campuses. At UC Berkeley, 5,000 students and workers, along with many faculty members, rallied at noon. At the same hour at UCLA, 700 students and workers and a few faculty members gathered at Bruin Plaza. And 500 rallied at UC Irvine, which Time magazine described as "normally placid."

The normally placid UC Irvine is where I teach.

The best sign I saw at the UCI rally read "If I wanted to go to a private school, I would have been born into a rich family."

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The Notion
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September 25, 2009
Robert Dreyfuss
Bob Dreyfuss

It isn't clear why, exactly, the United States and its allies revealed today what they know about a secret uranium enrichment facility in Iran. The New York Times, which broke the story, says:

"American officials said that they had been tracking the covert project for years, but that Mr. Obama decided to disclose the American findings after Iran discovered, in recent weeks, that Western intelligence agencies had breached the secrecy surrounding the complex."

What "Western intelligence agencies" did to breach the secrecy isn't stated. But the revelation is devastating for Iran, guaranteed to raise suspicions about Iran's intentions, inflame the passions of bomb-Iran hawks, and vastly complicate the talks between Iran and the P5 + 1 world powers scheduled to start on October 1.

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Bob Dreyfuss
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September 25, 2009
John Nichols
John Nichols

On Friday, former Democratic National Committee chair Paul Kirk cleared what was probably his last legal hurdle to become the selected-not-elected "temporary senator" from Massachusetts.

A Massachusetts judge, rejecting a Republican challenge, ruled that the veteran Democratic operative was legitimately appointed and could hold his seat until a special election names a permanent successor to the late Senator Edward Kennedy.

The temorary senator's charge is to fill seat during the Senate debate over health-care reform.

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John Nichols
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September 25, 2009
Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman

Wrapup: Our Think Again column is called "Falling for the Far Right'sACORN Agenda" and deals with the manner in which the MSM got rolled byright-wing re-working vis-a-vis ACORN. You can find it here. My Nation column this week is called "The House that Irving Built."

Alter-review:

Loudon and Charlie again: I wrote this little squib for TBD on the new (and beautifully packaged) Loudon Wainwright tribute to Charlie Poole, High, Wide and Handsome, which Sal reviewed so favorably here a couple of weeks ago here.

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September 24, 2009
Ari Melber
Ari Melber

New York, NY – When Ricky Martin took the stage at the Clinton Global Initiative on Thursday, he did not sing, or dance, or even flash his trademark grin. Following the same stage directions as dozens of other celebrities who dropped by Clinton's 5th annual global summit, from Brad Pitt to Bono to Jessica Alba, Martin struck a somber note while discussing the fight against human trafficking.

"I feel that my heart is going to come out of my mouth," he said, recounting his sadness for the "millions of children that didn't make it." Martin was followed by testimony from a woman who, along with her two children, was kidnapped and held for four years of forced labor. Then Luis CdeBaca, a former counsel to Rep. John Conyers who now serves as President Obama's chief diplomat for combating human trafficking, explained that between 12 and 27 million people are enslaved around the world today. In its official materials, The Clinton Global Initiative notes that the higher estimates mean there are more people enslaved "than at any other time in human history," though that's the kind of factoid that says more about population growth than the scope of the problem. But the numbers are daunting by any measure. And the policy experts who huddled on Thursday stressed that many obvious measures to combat trafficking are simply not being applied.

About 90 percent of countries do not have dedicated police units for investigating trafficking, according to Clinton's organization, and many governments simply look the other way. Only one out of three governments around the world provide basics like emergency phone lines for children and families who do not know where to turn when faced with a kidnapping.

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The Notion
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September 24, 2009
Eyal Press

Back in March, I wrote a story documenting the financial meltdown's calamitous impact on the nonprofit sector. I neglected to mention one important reason for this: the reckless behavior of nonprofits themselves.

As Stephanie Strom documents in The Times today, many nonprofits spent the past two decades doing their best imitation of hedge funds. Interest-rate arbitrage, auction-rate securities, complex swaps: these were among the practices in which nonprofits engaged, taking advantage of a change in the tax code that allowed charities easy access to credit markets. Strom offers the example of New York Law School, which in 2006 floated $135 million in auction-rate securities and sold its library for roughly the same amount ($136.5 million), using the money not to build a library but to pad its endowment and borrow for construction.

Now, many of the same nonprofits are drowning in debt that will result in museums being shut down, services being slashed, staff being cut. Some will presumably end up bankrupt or foreclosed, an unfortunate fate for which they have only themselves to blame.

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The Notion
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September 24, 2009
Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman

Wrapup: Our Think Again column is called "Falling for the Far Right'sACORN Agenda" and deals with the manner in which the MSM got rolled byright wing re-working vis-a-vis ACORN. You can find it here.My Nation column this week is called "The House that Irving Built."

Alter-reviews: Raymond Carver, Thorton Wilder and Big Star.My friends at the Library of America have finally gotten around toRaymond Carver and collected all his stories in, you guessed it,Collected Stories, edited by William L. Stull and Maureen P. Carroll

Based on previous collections such as Will You Please Be Quiet,Please?, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,Cathedral and Where I'm Calling From, Carver established himself as theshort story writer of his moment. That they are all in one place wouldbe reason enough to want this on your shelf--even, if as I do, you havethe paperback somewhere. LOA decided to offer up the pre-Gordon Lishversion of Beginners, the manuscript of What We Talk About When We TalkAbout Love and it's revelatory in the extensiveness of the collaborationbetween writer and editor--one that was a source of both inspiration andanguish to Carver, whom I met once, and struck me as a really decent,albeit sad, man. LOA has also published a bunch of novels and stories byThornton Wilder: The Cabala * The Bridge of San Luis Rey * The Woman ofAndros * Heaven's My Destination * The Ides of March * Stories andEssays, which were edited by J. D. McClatchy. Most of us know Wilder forhis plays (which LOA has also published). These are, therefore, awonderful surprise, and a perfect example of why we need a LOA, lestthey be lost to us if publishing depended purely on profit. Thevolume concludes with a selection of early short stories--among them"Precautions Inutiles," published here for the first time--and aselection of essays that offers Wilder's insights into the works ofStein and Joyce, as well as a lecture on letter writers that bears onboth The Bridge of San Luis Rey and The Ides of March.

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