Eesha Williams writes: Sheila Prue, a fourteen-year veteran Brattleboro, Vermont, police sergeant and open lesbian, won an unexpected, landslide victory in the Democratic primary for Windham County sheriff on September 10. She ran against two male veterans of the sheriff’s department who spent much more money on their campaigns. One was accused of sexual misconduct by a female subordinate. Prue will face the popular Republican incumbent, Henry Farnum, in the general election. If elected, she will be the nation’s first openly lesbian county sheriff. Of 3,088 elected county sheriffs in the United States, twenty-five are women, said Dean Kueter, a spokesman for the National Sheriffs’ Association in Arlington, Virginia. (Send checks to Sheila for Sheriff, 128 Main Street, Suite 5, Brattleboro, VT 05301.)


We’ve recently put The Nation‘s website through some changes, with more to come in the weeks ahead. The first change is the weblog ActNow! by Peter Rothberg, designed to help readers act on their beliefs by putting them in touch with projects and campaigns they may want to join and featuring creative ways for them to register their dissent. Whether it’s another right-wing court appointment, a rush to war by a reckless Administration, a governor with his finger on the switch, a Congress intent on pushing fast-track legislation, a corporate takeover of a public water concern or the steady erosion of unbranded public space, it will help people find activists and organizers mobilizing opposition. There will be ways to write letters to Congress, to find out about progressive events, to sign on to petitions, to organize teach-ins, to e-mail talking points, to brainstorm with other activists, to push renewable energy projects, to reclaim public space and to learn about boycotts. There’ll be regular focus on the organizing being done by student groups in the global justice, fair-trade and human rights movements. There will also be links to articles, to scholarly resources, to policy reports and to sites we like ( Sign up for EmailNation, our free electronic newsletter.


“Enron accounting” appears to have been as favored by George W. Bush as by Vice President Cheney. Bush had better connections, though. When Bush’s Harken Energy Corp. was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1990, as detailed in the October 9 Wall Street Journal, it formed a partnership with Harvard University’s endowment arm and moved troubled assets and large debts into the new entity–thus getting them off the balance sheet. As usual, it appears to have been a case of Poppy coming to the aid of his offspring: One of the Harvard endowment’s most influential board members was a political supporter. Credit for unearthing key documents goes to HarvardWatch, a student and alumni group, and the Center for Public Integrity.


A 794-page report prepared by a team of historians headed by Saul Friedländer has confirmed the charge, first made in these pages by Hersch Fischler and John Friedman (see “Bertelsmann’s Nazi Past,” December 28, 1998), that Bertelsmann, the German communications giant, collaborated with the Nazi regime before and during World War II. Bertelsmann claimed it was forced to suspend operations during the war because it published books banned by the Nazis. Actually, as Fischler-Friedman reported, and the Bertelsmann-sponsored report confirms, it was shut down in 1944 for hoarding paper. Before that sanction, the company had made a tidy living printing books for German soldiers and religious tomes containing anti-Semitic propaganda.