Re:Action January/February 2005

A Gathering Swarm
Wellstone Action trains grassroots activists to take on causes that would have made its namesake proud. Democracy for America is pushing for a progressive overhaul of the Democratic machine. America Coming Together is retooling its massive get-out-the-vote drive to support ongoing local organizing. Mainstreet Moms Oppose Bush is looking ahead to the 2006 midterm elections. Online fundraiser ActBlue.com links donors with deserving candidates in upcoming state and federal races.

The Condemned
The Institute for Justice’s report “Public Power, Private Gain” details more than 10,000 recent examples of eminent domain abuse across the United States. The Coalition for Redevelopment Reform fights landgrabs carried out under the guise of cleaning up blight. For tips on stopping unwanted corporate neighbors and their lawyers, see Sprawlbusters founder Al Norman’s Slam-Dunking Wal-Mart: How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl in Your Hometown (Raphel Marketing 1999).

A Touch of Crude
Go to Human Rights Watch’s website for more about the dire state of human rights in Equatorial Guinea. For a firsthand account of Teodoro Obiang’s bloody rise to power, check out Robert Klitgaard’s Tropical Gangsters (Basic Books 1991).

Dozens of Words for Snow, None for Pollution
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which has promoted the interests of Canada’s Arctic peoples since 1971, continues to study the contamination of their traditional foods. The World Wildlife Fund Arctic Program says that industrial pollution and global warming have put both the inhabitants and wildlife of the Far North at risk. Kids can learn more about endangered polar bears at the WWF’s Polar Bear Tracker website. Adults can check out its Detox campaign, which seeks to limit the effects of dangerous man-made chemicals.

Life on the Inside
“Housing first” is one of the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ 10 essentials for ending the crisis within a decade. The National Coalition for the Homeless offers resources for people who are—or are in danger of becoming—homeless. In Designing for the Homeless: Architecture That Works (University of California Press 2004), architect Sam Davis shows that affordable housing can be both functional and surprisingly elegant.

The Spy Who Billed Me
Keep tabs on the shadowy world of intelligence with the Federation of American Scientists’ email digest of “Secrecy News.” Visit GlobalSecurity.org’s exhaustive catalog of security policy and current operations. Get a glimpse into the inner workings of the nsa in James Bamford’s Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (Anchor 2002).

The Rat Pack
To comment on proposed rodenticide regulations, follow these tips for using the EPA’s un-user friendly website. Go to docket.epa.gov/edkfed/index.jsp, click on “View Open EPA Dockets,” and scroll down to docket number OPP-2004-0033. The Natural Resources Defense Council and West Harlem Environmental Action are suing the EPA to reinstate rat poison protections for kids.

Placebo Panacea
For more on the similarities between popular antidepressants and the lowly sugar pill, see Gary Greenberg’s
“Is It Prozac? Or Placebo?” in the November/December 2003 Mother Jones. Adbusters will soon launch drugtaker.org to pressure the FDA to make all drug trial results public.

Get Off Your Ass and (Culture) Jam
Learn more about Downhill Battle’s anti-iTunes, pro-iPod stance on their iTunes iSbogus and savetheipod sites. Visit freeculture.org, a project of Downhill Battle collaborators (and Mother Jones’ May/June 2004 Hellraisers) Luke Smith and Nelson Pavlosky. Read more about your digital rights in Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (Penguin 2004) [available as a PDF here.] Lessig’s creativecommons.org gives artists an innovative way to protect and share their work online.

Little Big Companies
Read more about cell-phone contracting shenanigans in Iraq in Michael Scherer’s “Crossing the Lines” in the September/October 2004 Mother Jones. “The World According to Halliburton” in the July/August 2003 issue maps Halliburton’s ever-expanding global operations.

Exiles of the Kalahari
You can find Survival International’s letter-writing campaign against the Botswanan government and De Beers at survival-international.org. The Indigenous Land Rights Fund is taking the Bushmen’s case to the International Criminal Court. For more insight into the changing Bushman culture, see ILRF head Rupert Isaacson’s The Healing Land: The Bushmen and the Kalahari Desert (Grove Press 2003). The nonprofit Kalahari Peoples Fund sponsors development projects in Bushman communities in Botswana and Namibia.

From Rubble to Republic
Read Afghan American journalist Roya Aziz’s eyewitness account of her homeland’s recent election on the website of PBS’s Frontline/World.

Smells Like Governance
More on Krist Novoselic’s political solo career and his manifesto, Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix This Broken Democracy! (RDV Books 2004), can be found at fixour.us.