Columns & Articles
I was on a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado this week when Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter asked me, “Is Obama a sellout?” The question isn’t whether he is a sellout or not—it’s about what demands are made by grass-roots social movements of those who would represent them. The question is, who are these candidates responding to, answering to?
The world lost one of its great comedians this week with the death at age 71 of George Carlin. Carlin had a career as a stand-up comic that spanned a half-century, in which he continually broke new ground, targeting those in power with his wit and genius.
While the TV meteorologists document “extreme weather” with their increasingly sophisticated toolbox, from Doppler radar to 3-D animated maps, the two words rarely uttered are its cause: global warming.
“This way to better media,” read the floor sign directing people through a skyway to the Minneapolis Convention Center. Thousands of people gathered there for the fourth National Conference for Media Reform, hosted by freepress.net. They came from all walks of life and all ages to address a central crisis in our society: our broken media system. I was one of the invited speakers.
David Iglesias is an evangelical, Hispanic Republican—yes, that one, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico—and he has positive things to say about Barack Obama.
“Utah” Phillips died this week at the age of 73. He was a musician, labor organizer, peace activist and co-founder of his local homeless shelter. He also was an archivist, a historian and a traveler, playing guitar and singing almost forgotten songs of the dispossessed and the downtrodden, and keeping alive the memory of labor heroes like Emma Goldman, Joe Hill and the Industrial Workers of the World, “the Wobblies,” in a society that too soon forgets.
As the U.S. presidential race continues, so does the arms race worldwide. People—civilians, children—are being killed and maimed, on a daily basis, by unexploded cluster bombs and land mines. Thousands of nuclear missiles remain at hair-trigger alert. The U.S. government rattles its saber at Iran, alleging a nuclear-weapons program, while at the same time offering enriched uranium to Saudi Arabia.
A veteran of Army intelligence has shed new light on the military’s 2003 shelling of the Palestine Hotel, a Baghdad home to many journalists, including two who were killed by that attack.
Sami al-Haj is a free man today, after having been imprisoned by the U.S. military for more than six years. His crime: journalism. Targeting journalists, the Bush administration has engaged in direct assault, intimidation, imprisonment and information blackouts to limit the ability of journalists to do their jobs. The principal target these past seven years has been Al-Jazeera, the Arabic television network based in Doha, Qatar.
Food riots are erupting around the world. Behind the hunger, behind the riots, are so-called free-trade agreements, and the brutal emergency-loan agreements imposed on poor countries by financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
As the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race continues to focus on lapel pins and pastors, America is ailing.
Sen. Barack Obama is clearly a bad bowler. But it was not too long ago that African-Americans were not allowed in some bowling alleys. In Orangeburg, S.C., three young African-American men were killed for protesting against that town’s segregated bowling alley.
The American Psychological Association is in the midst of its own heated presidential campaign. The central issue is whether APA members should be banned from participating in “harsh interrogations.”
It has been 40 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., while standing on the balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel. King was there to support striking sanitation workers, African-American men who endured horrible working conditions for poverty wages. While King’s staff was opposed to him going, as they were scrambling to organize King’s new initiative, the Poor People’s Campaign, King himself knew that the sanitation workers were at the front lines of fighting poverty.
We just passed the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. military members killed in Iraq since the invasion five years ago. Still, the death toll climbs. Tomas Young was one of those injured, on April 4, 2004, in Sadr City. Young is the subject of a new feature documentary by legendary TV talk-show host Phil Donahue and filmmaker Ellen Spiro, called “Body of War.”
Last weekend, in the lead up to the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a remarkable gathering occurred just outside Washington, D.C., called Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan, Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations. Hundreds of veterans of these two wars, along with active-duty soldiers, came together to offer testimony about the horrors of war, including atrocities they witnessed or committed themselves.
The women of New York had a champion in Eliot Spitzer. The good news in the wake of the governor’s resignation is that his successor, David Paterson, and the state’s activists are ready to keep up the fight.
While the Iraq war is off the front pages, and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama embark on what may well be a scorched-earth primary battle against each other, let’s keep our eye on where the real scorched earth lies: who profits and who dies.
Clinton proclaimed in her victory speech in Ohio on March 4, after winning three of the four primary contests that day, “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” She should take note, however, of how goes Vermont. That state might be a better bellwether, especially concerning the U.S. quagmire in Iraq.
On the Sunday following Sept. 11, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney told the truth. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said regarding plans to pursue the perpetrators of that attack: “We have to work the dark side, if you will. We’re going to spend time in the shadows.”
The grim, deadly consequences of his promise have, in the intervening six years, become the shame of our nation and have outraged millions around the world. President George Bush and Cheney, many argue, have overseen a massive global campaign of kidnapping, illegal detentions, harsh interrogations, torture and kangaroo courts where the accused face the death penalty, confronted by secret evidence obtained by torture, without legal representation.
Nearing 87 years old, Yuri Kochiyama lives in a small room in an Oakland, Calif., senior living facility. Her walls are adorned with photos, posters, postcards and mementos detailing a living history of the revolutionary struggles of the 20th century. She is quiet, humble and small, and has trouble at times retrieving the right word. Yet, with a sparkle in her eyes, she has no trouble recalling that incredible history—not from books, not from documentaries, but from living it, on the front lines.