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The Nation

June 28, 2007
John Nichols
John Nichols

No one was all that surprised when the Bush administration announced Thursday that it would not cooperate with congressional demands for documents and testimony by prominent former officials that would likely confirm this White House's reckless disregard for the rule of law.

What was surprising, and encouraging, was the decisiveness with which key players in Congress responded.

After the White House asserted executive privilege in rejecting subpoenas issued by the House and Senate Judiciary committees as part of the ongoing probe of abuses within the Department of Justice, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers wasted no time expressing his sense that a Contempt of Congress citation is in order.

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John Nichols
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June 28, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

It's a frustrating time for those Americans who are fighting to end this war. There is gridlock in Washington. This White House continues to hang on to the argument that the US must stay in Iraq -- possibly for decades. And the new Democratic-controlled Congress--working with razor-thin majorities--couldn't stop a supplemental that gave Bush 100 billion dollars more for the war.

This in spite of the fact that the country, the troops, the Iraqi people and Iraqi lawmakers oppose the open-ended continuation of this war.

But citizens across the country have continued to demonstrate their opposition to this disastrous war through local channels. In California, as Nation contributing editor Marc Cooper, recently noted, a resolution to place a referendum on troop withdrawal on the February 5 primary ballot was passed by a wide margin by the state senate.

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June 28, 2007

It's irresistible to beat up on rich, elite universities like Harvard, Yale and Stanford when they disregard the rights of low-wage workers. (I myself enjoyed beating up on Stanford just last month.) But workers who toil on lesser-known campuses deserve justice, too. At Nova Southeastern University in Broward County, Florida, janitors have been attempting to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The workers, mostly Haitians, have been enduring terrible wages, no benefits and no potable water. Many have lost their jobs for trying to organize, according to a National Labor Relations Board complaint filed by the workers. Often, when august institutions of higher learning find their inner Wal-Mart – as they frequently do, when their workers try to organize -- students and professors rally in support of the workers. Nearby University of Miami is a good example – there, workers were able to organize thanks to aggressive action from the campus community. Nova has taken some extreme steps to make sure this doesn't happen.

Earlier this year, it appeared that the university was not only violating workers' freedom of association, but also the free speech rights of faculty and students. For a few weeks in February, the university blocked emails with "seiu" in the address, according to Tanya Aquino, a spokeswoman for SEIU Local 11. (This way, the only updates professors and students received on the labor situation came from Nova's president.) University officials have also discouraged students – most of whom are commuters, and therefore rely on email for information about campus life -- from sending each other updates on the workers' struggle. Some students have been admonished in threatening ways, with officials implying that they might be disciplined for participating in the campaign. (Nova officials did not respond to a request for comment.) The result of all this, according to Aquino, is that few faculty and students are willing to stand up up for the rights of the Nova workers. It's a dreadful example of how, in suppressing workers' rights, a university can diminish itself as a place of higher learning. How much could one learn at a school that forbids the expression of views on such critical human rights questions?

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The Notion
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June 28, 2007
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

A Canadian mining corporation, Northern Dynasty Minerals, is trying to create one of North America's largest open pit gold and copper mines in the heart of Alaska's Bristol Bay - a wonderland of fish-filled lakes, rivers and streams - home to some of the last great wild salmon runs and rainbow trout.

Most Americans who keep up on the news are familiar with the fight over drilling for oil exploration in the ANWR preserve but the real threat to Alaska's fishing and hunting ecological systems is not ANWR, but rather the proposed development of an open pit mining district at the headwaters of the two most famous salmon producing river drainages in Alaska.

At the core of Pebble Mine, covering some 15 square miles, would be an open pit measuring about two miles long, a mile and a half wide and 1,700 feet deep. Over its period of operation, the mine is estimated to produce three billion tons of waste. Moreover, the proposed Pebble Mine, would just be the first of many, and include the largest dam in the world, larger than the oft-criticized Three Gorges Dam in China, and would be made of earth not concrete, which is less effective in holding back the toxic waste created in the mining process.

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June 28, 2007
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

Written and reported by Matthew Blake:

The death penalty is finally beginning to remerge as an issue inside the halls of Congress--and it only took the second Congressional power shift in 50 years and the unprecedented Department of Justice dismissal of 8 or 9 US attorneys to make it happen.

Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold on Wednesday held a hearing of the Senate Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution that drew attention to the lack of information available about when the Justice Department seeks capital punishment and the financial and social costs involved when it does. Fired US Attorney Paul Charlton testified that even he did not know death penalty protocol under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and told the committee that he was fired after refusing to authorize the death penalty for a case with no corroborating forensic evidence.

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The Notion
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June 28, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Stop me if you've heard this one. Last week the Vice President's lawyer, David Addington, argued that the VP didn't have to catalogue his secret documents because his role as President of the Senate means he's not really a part of the executive branch and therefore doesn't have to abide by the laws governing it. After this led to late night mockery, Addington argued instead that Cheney doesn't have to comply because both the president and the vice president are exempt from their own executive order.

In other words, Dick is saying to the Constitution what he said to Senator Leahy. (Hint: It begins with an "f.")

Normally, this would be the point where tragedy becomes farce and the entire country leans back and takes a bong hit for Jesus if it weren't for the four-part Washington Post series on Cheney. The article tells the story of the leader of the Senate, who starts an unnecessary war for the purpose of consolidating unconstitutional powers and turning the republic into an empire, while at the same time seducing a vain younger man with anger issues to the dark side.

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The Notion
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June 27, 2007
Katha Pollitt
Katha Pollitt

Last night I finally saw Knocked Up, Judd Apatow's hilarious new movie, a raunchfest with a family-values core --- carrying on with accidental pregnancies, marriage as responsible adulthood, staying together for the sake of the kids. I'm not going to get into that here, except to second Dana Stevens' great piece in Slate on Hollywood and TV's cowardice about abortion (referred to in Knocked Up by the hero's slacker roommate as "rhymes with shmashmortion" and, by the heroine's ice-cold mother, as "taking care of it").

As she points out, legions of single women in their twenties who get pregnant accidentally like Alison (Katherine Heigl) or Jenna (Keri Russell) in Waitress, have abortions; on the big or small screen, they have miscarriages or babies. In the movies, I might add, accidental babies solve the very issues (men, work, money, dreams) that, in real life, they often worsen. Jenna gives birth, dumps her abusive ox of a husband, wins the baking contest he'd barred her from entering and opens her own pie diner. Alison falls in love with Ben (Seth Rogen), her one-night drunken stand, and, after spending the whole movie hiding her pregnancy to keep her celebrity-reporting job at E!, gets outed -- and promoted. Pregnancy polls really well-- who knew?

Actually, though, the real subject of Knocked Up is the immaturity of men: only under the most desperate circumstances will they put aside their bongs, or their porn, or their even more idiotic friends. If a woman had made this movie she'd be labelled a total man-hater: there isn't one man in it who isn't basically a teenager. But a woman never would have made this movie, because women don't have the fantasy in which willowy creamy world-class beauties like Alison, with brains, great clothes, and tons of self-confidence in bed and out of it, go for men like Ben (Seth Rogen), who is not only an unemployed and underbathed stoner with no ambitions and no visible means of support, but physically unattractive to an alarming degree. A real-life Alison wouldn't have spent one night in his filthy teenage-boy lair of a bedroom, or hung out for one evening with his uber-slacker friends . I'll give you that she might have called him when she discovered she was pregnant-- but offer to entwine herself in coparenting for life with a one-night stand she couldn't even get through breakfast with the next morning? Invite this virtual stranger to all her prenatal checkups? I didn't even invite my husband!

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June 27, 2007
John Nichols
John Nichols

After putting up with months of stonewalling by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their aides, the Senate Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas seeking information about internal debates regarding the legality of warrantless wiretapping programs that were promoted by the vice president and authorized by the president.

Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy today issued subpoenas to the White House and, in particular, to Cheney's office demanding documents relating to the National Security Agency's spying program.

The fact that a primary target of the subpoenas is Cheney's office confirms that the focus of the committee's investigation of White House collaboration with embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has expanded to include a sharp focus on the role that the vice president played in promoting lawless actions and in pressuring others in the administration to go along with him.

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The Notion
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June 27, 2007
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

You've heard all the stereotypes. Students are apathetic, complacent and unaware of the world around them.

There's a grain of truth to that statement. But a whole lot of falsity. Just ask the 1,000 student journalists and activists who converged on Washington early this week from every single state for the third annual Campus Progress conference.

On Monday The Nation co-sponsored a journalism training day at the Center for American Progress with over 150 student journalists, featuring speeches by Katrina vanden Heuvel and two of America's best muckraking journalists, Barbara Ehrenreich and Eric Schlosser, panels on covering corruption and the courts, featuring the likes of Helen Thomas, Dahlia Lithwick, David Corn, John Nichols and yours truly, and workshops on culture, blogging, investigative journalism and reporting beyond the Beltway.

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The Notion
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