Re:Action | September/October 2004

Red Alert
“Chemical Industry vs. Public Interest,” a report [PDF] by the public interest group No More Bhopals Alliance, outlines the administration’s failure to protect the nation’s chemical plants from terrorist attack. Greenpeace USA is pushing for tighter security standards for the plants. So is the Safe Hometowns Initiative, which offers organizing tips for those living nearby. For practical, if at times laughably sanguine, information on how to prepare for terror threats, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

The New Ward Heelers
Don’t wait for a canvasser to sign you up to vote — download the National Mail Voter Registration Form and do it yourself. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center finds that partisan voters won’t budge, but 21 percent of Americans haven’t decided between Bush and Kerry. Stanley Greenberg’s The Two Americas: Our Current Political Deadlock and How to Break It (Thomas Dunne 2004) suggests ways both parties can pluck voters from the other side.

The Way It Was
Both Planned Parenthood the National Abortion Federation are keeping a close eye on the new “federal abortion ban” and legal challenges to abortion rights. You can keep track of reproductive health policy news including the court decisions against the PBAB with the Kaiser Network’s Daily Reproductive Health Report. The history of illegal abortion in the 100 years prior to Roe v. Wade is presented in Leslie J. Reagan’s When Abortion was a Crime: Women, Medicine and Law in the United States, 1867-1973 (University of California 1997), available online in its entirety. Cynthia Gorney’s Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars (Simon & Schuster 1998) picks up the story after Roe and follows it into the 90s. “End of the Road,” in the September/October 2003 issue of Mother Jones, profiles one of the few doctors who performs late-term abortions.

Crossing the Lines
The Center for Public Integrity’s “Windfalls of War” website tracks the more than 150 American companies who have won federal contracts worth nearly $50 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan. CorpWatch also reports on the “war profiteers” cashing in on the rebuilding of Iraq. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is pushing the House Committee on Government Reform to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse in postwar contracting.

For a Week’s Worth of Gas
Who really wrote the Bush energy policy? “Big energy companies all but held the pencil,” says the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has 13,500 documents to prove it. “Drilling the Wild,” Ted Kerasote’s Field & Stream article on the Bush administration’s betrayal of outdoors lovers of all stripes can be found at the magazine’s website. For more on the ugly consequences of coalbed-methane development, see “The New Range Wars” in the November/December 2002 edition of Mother Jones or online at, where you’ll also find contact information for groups concerned about the impact of drilling on the environment.

Trial and Error
Public Citizen debunks the “myths” of frivolous lawsuits on its website; its report, “Unfairness Incorporated: The Corporate Campaign Against Consumer Class Action,” looks at who stands to profit from tort reform. The Center for Justice and Democracy says the courts must remain the “last line of defense” for citizens.

Mining the Matrix
The ACLU is leading the charge against the MATRIX system; it has a comprehensive website on the program and the states that are still using it. For more on federal data-mining efforts, check out the report [PDF] issued in May by the Government Accountability Office, which found four other programs that can sift through your personal details.

He Loves Us Not
For more on President Bush’s antifeminism, read The W Effect: Bush’s War on Women (The Feminist Press 2004), a compilation of essays edited by Laura Flanders. The National Council for Research on Women details the government data on women that is no longer available; check out its report, “Missing: Information About Women’s Lives.”

The Kean Mutiny
Reports and hearing transcripts from National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a.k.a. the 9/11 Commission, are available at its website. The Family Steering Committee has been highly critical of the commission; its website features a list of “unanswered questions.” Read a detailed analysis of the commission’s report at

Pete Seeger’s Last War
Seeger’s re-written and re-recorded version of “Bring Them Home” can be found on Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger: Vol. 3 (Appleseed Recordings 2003). For more on Seeger’s music and politics, read David Dunaway’s biography How Can I Keep from Singing: Pete Seeger (Da Capo Press 1990).

The Deserted
Donate to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which are running the camps in Chad. Medecins Sans Frontires provides medicine and food to Darfuri refugees, and criticizes the world’s “slowness and lack of response” to the crisis. The International Crisis Group’s website lists more humanitarian groups working in Darfur and Chad.