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The Nation

July 8, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

In early July Operation Understanding DC sent 31 African American and Jewish high school students from the DC area on a 25 day-long trip to learn about the great struggles--and the sweet victories--of Jews and African Americans who've fought for social justice in our nation‘s history.

"Our mission," said Rachael Feldman, executive director of OUDC, "is to build a future generation of African-American and Jewish young leaders who will work together to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and to promote respect and understanding."

The trip will take them to New York, then through North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. They will visit churches and synagogues and meet with prominent civil rights leaders. The journey is part of a year long program designed to help young people learn to fight injustice and promote tolerance. According to Feldman, in the six months before embarking on the trip, the students in the program "dived intensely into each others religions and cultures" meeting for five hours every Sunday to discuss issues like slavery and the holocaust.

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July 8, 2007
John Nichols
John Nichols

As the Bush-Cheney administration enters its final 18 months, the White House is getting competition from the U.S. Supreme Court for status as greatest threat to the Constitution and the nation for which it is supposed to serve as a blueprint.

In recent weeks, the court headed by Bush-appointee John Roberts has attacked the sort of individual free speech that the Bill or Rights was written to protect while expanding the ability of corporations to warp and dominate the political debate. It has rolled back basic civil rights protections, especially in the area of public education. And it opened the way for the renewal of the sort of business combinations that the anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws of the past century were designed to prevent.

In other words, the court has gotten just about everything wrong -- so wrong that its rational members have begun to express disbelief with regard to the extremism of the new activist majority.

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July 7, 2007
Max Fraser

So the daylong, globe-spanning Live Earth spectacular is in its final moments; the last chords of the almost implausibly star-studded roster of musical acts soon to be played by Sting and the recently reunited Police. It's been an exhausting ten hours, as the thinning ranks of our press cohorts attests. The crowd in the stadium, though, soldiers on, and when the moment came for a beaming Al Gore to introduce homegrown favorites Bon Jovi, the Meadowlands shook louder than it had for any of the series of multi-platinum artists who played the second half of the show.

But the true stars of the day -- no offense to Kanye, Kelly, and Jon -- were the likes of Robert Kennedy, Jr., whose rousing call for Live Earthers to take their eco-consciousness to the voting booth was one of the day's more exciting moments; and, of course, Gore himself, who was greeted with wild cheers every time he took the stage. Kennedy wasted no time before laying into "the oil industry and the coal industry and their indentured servants" on Capitol Hill, and reminded the crowd that while the little things done around the house can help, "the most important thing you can do is get involved in the political process and get rid of these corporate toadies." "This is treason," he said with a growl, "and we need to start to treating them like traitors."

In keeping with the evening's trend -- more substance, less bullet points -- Sting opted to forego his moment at the press tent lectern, handing over his allotted time (announced as the only opportunity to interview him) to his wife, who talked about her participation in an ongoing class-action lawsuit to prevent a massive oil company from spoiling the rainforests of Ecuador, and with them, the habitat of some 30,000 indigenous people. The suit claims the oil to be gained will only amount to twelve-days-wroth of daily-global usage, while the loss of habitat will be immeasurable. To learn more, head to www.chevrontoxico.com

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The Notion
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July 7, 2007

Approaching the midway point of the Live Earth concert, with the biggest acts still a few hours away, and fans are continuing to stream into Giants Stadium. Max and I, however, have streamed in and then right back out again, after learning that our badges get us into the press tent in the parking lot and not much else. Our quick tour of the stadium concession area led to observations both expected -- $30 t-shirts, $7.00 beers, beefy security guys who wouldn't let us sneak onto the floor -- and unexpected, like the special veggie hot dogs, hamburgers and kabobs; and the compostable brown paper that much of the food came wrapped in.

Recycling stations are everywhere, many of them staffed by volunteers in light blue shirts emblazoned with a Pepsi logo who are there to help people recycle correctly. We spoke to one, Anne, who works as a scientist and recently relocated to New York from Chicago. She signed up for the gig online because she's always "cared about the planet" and wanted to lend a hand however she could. She wants to see more of these mega-concerts-with-a-purpose in the future, maybe one about balancing the budget and another about putting an end to the war in Iraq. We asked Anne whether she thought other volunteers and concertgoers were as concerned as she about the day's political message. She wasn't sure, but was staying optimistic.

Afterwards, we retreated to the press tent to watch a few of the live acts on a projection screen -- Fall Out Boy, Ludacris, Taking Back Sunday, KT Tunstall, and, most memorable thus far if only for sheer presumptuousness, a version of "Gimme Shelter" featuring Keith Urban and Alicia Keyes. An excited MSN press flack informed the assembled media folks that Live Earth was shaping up to be the "largest online entertainment event in the history of online entertainment events," and by midafternoon the MSNBC.com live feed was warning viewers that "Due to the huge number of fans tuning in, the site is a bit slow right now." Press people huddled around speakers and scribbled notes furiously during a brief stage appearance by Al Gore, during which the Live Earth champion promised to keep fighting for a "sustainable, just, and prosperous world for the twenty-first century."

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July 7, 2007
Max Fraser

Well, Thaddeus and I have arrived at Giants Stadium, the main event is rapidly approaching, and, from the looks of the parking lot, not too many of our fellow concertgoers followed our lead and the suggestion of the concert organizers and took the bus. But that's ok -- Live Earth, its participants and promoters keep reminding us, is not going to solve this whole global warming problem over night. It's just a "launch event," said a publicist in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. A "launch event" reiterated Live Earth creator Kevin Wall to Variety, "not a silver bullet"; better yet, "a tipping point of behavioral change." Despite the out-of-this world promises in the press kit for the concert extravaganza -- "more than 100 music artists"; "2 billion people"; "unprecedented global media architecture" -- you get the sense that Wall and Live Earth guru Al Gore are trying to keep any hopes for immediate climatological salvation, well, down-to-earth. A call to arms -- not a victory cry.

Ok, fair enough. As any right-headed viewer of Gore's Oscar-winning documentary should know by now, there's not much room left for equivocation on global warming -- we're talking systemic change, and fast. You have to start somewhere. As one reporter put it, Live Earth can be a "message to people to change their lifestyles."

And lifestyles are changing. As the New York Times reported last week, sales for Toyota's "built from the ground up" hybrid, the Prius, are up a whopping 93.7% from last year, well outperforming the hybrid versions of popular models offered by other car companies. Why? According to a market research poll, a sizable majority (57%) of Prius owners bought their eco-friendly ride because "it makes a statement about me," almost double the number that offered the same explanation three years ago. By contrast, 36% cited the car's higher fuel economy, and only one in four was attracted by its lower emissions. As the article concluded, "The Prius has become, in a sense, the four-wheel equivalent of those popular rubber ‘issue bracelets'...it shows the world that its owner cares." Another recent Times article, aptly titled "Buying Into the Green Movement", found "that vision of an eco-sensitive life as a series of choices about what to buy appeals to millions of consumers and arguably defines the current environmental movement as equal parts concern for the earth and for making a stylish statement." Even Time Out New York, which normally busies itself with ferreting out hip downtown night spots, implores readers to "be earth-friendly on your terms" on this week's cover.

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July 7, 2007

Are the Live Earth concerts a real call to action? Vote now and post your comments in the Nation Poll.

Good morning from New York. I am just about to meet up with Max Fraser to head over to New Jersey. The Nation was kind enough to give us access to the Notion this Saturday so that we might post a couple entries live from Giants Stadium, the North American venue for "Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis," the latest global concert-for-a-cause. (Lucky us, with ticket being sold through legitimate vendors for $83 to $348, no small commitment, they were also kind enough to obtain us two press passes, and with those, hopefully access to some of the event's performers for an interview or two.) We should be at the stadium by early afternoon.

If you haven't heard, Live Earth is a 24-hour event on 7/7/07 that will bring together over 100 musical acts to perform a series of nine eco-friendly concerts on seven continents (yes, seven -- apparently Nunatak, the house band at the Rothera Research Station on Antarctica, will slip on their fingerless gloves to play a set outdoors). The shows kicked off in Sydney, Australia last night and have been rolling westward through Tokyo, Shanghai, Hamburg, London, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Washington D.C. (originally cancelled, then added again yesterday morning) and New York all night (China and Australia are on air as I write, watch them here). According to event planners, the music broadcast will entail total media saturation -- TV, radio, web and wireless channels simultaneously -- in hopes of reaching upwards of two billion people, prodding them to take up the good fight against global warming.

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July 6, 2007
Katha Pollitt
Katha Pollitt

Via Feministing comes awful news from Iran. For participating in a banned rally for women's rights in June,2006, twenty-four year old Delaram Ali has been sentenced to 34 months in prison and ten lashes. The demonstrators--around 100 women and a number of men -- were peacefully protesting flagrantly biassed Sharia-based laws, including those governing divorce, inheritance and the courts, in which a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's. Police violently attacked the rally and arrested 70 demonstrators; Ali is the seventh to be convicted. Her lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, offers a defiantly hopeful interpretation of this cruel and unjust verdict: "The women's movement is expanding and this worries the government."

More details hereand here.

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July 6, 2007
Katrina vanden Heuvel

July 4th's Washington Post featured a front-page story about how campaign contributors heavily favored Democrats in the three-month period that ended last weekend, giving three dollars to the party's leading contenders for every two dollars they gave to the top Republican candidates.

Barack Obama was the big money primary winner--with 285,000 total contributors since January, exceeding the combined number of donors to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain.

While I think it's fascinating that Obama has had such success in raising money from small donors on the Internet--and see glimmers of democratization in how those small-$ donors are challenging the primacy of political finance's big guns of politics--I still question why the mainstream media seems to privilege the money primary at the expense of the ideas primary.

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July 6, 2007
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

Dick Cheney has been a destructive force on the checks and balances of American government for more than six years. He has subverted long-standing processes, procedures, protocols and laws to lead us into the tragedy in Iraq, and is now seeking to do the same with Iran. (Both countries, mind you, that he did business with while CEO of Halliburton.)

As the Washington Post's recent four-part series on the most influential and powerful man ever to hold the office of vice president showed, Cheney has usurped his Cabinet colleagues to make himself the dominant voice on tax and spending policy; secretly steered the Bush administration's most important environmental decisions and purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive Congress by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq.

That's why there's a growing national movement to support H. Res 333, the articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. The bill is already endorsed by 14 members of Congress--Yvette Clarke, William Lacy, Keith Ellison, Bob Filner, Jesse Jackson Jr., Hank Johnson, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Jim McDermott, Jim Moran, Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey and Albert Wynn.

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