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The United Nations celebrates its 50th birthday with a conference June 21-24 in San Francisco, co-sponsored by citizen groups like Rainforest Action Network, Citizens Network for Sustainable Development, and Third World Institute. The alliance is odd, given such groups’ limited influence on U.N. decision-making.

That wasn’t always the case. In 1945, several “people’s” organizations–such as the NAACP and the League of Women Voters–participated in drafting the U.N. charter and mobilized their constituencies to lobby Congress to ratify it. Since then, grassroots groups have seen their role diminish considerably.

Under fire today from all quarters for its bloated bureaucracy, impotence in world crises, and lax oversight of the agencies it ostensibly manages (the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, etc.), the U.N. seems to be seeking a rapprochement with its old allies. But the grassroots are wary, participating “less out of hopefulness [for change] than out of desperation,” said one activist. A good sign: One of the conference’s goals is to rewrite the rules of how citizen groups can get consultative status at the U.N.

Liberal lip

“Take Back the Airwaves!” (Jan./Feb.) spurred calls from readers wanting more information about alternatives to Rush Limbaugh. If you’re interested in a list of progressive radio talk shows, including several not mentioned in the article, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to Airwaves, Mother Jones, 731 Market St., Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94103.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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