Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Web site highlight: The Nation

I'm looking at my copy of The Nation that was delivered today. For those wondering why there's been no news on The Nation, some haven't made arrived. I'm looking at the March 28th issue and I go online to check that it's the most current. It's not. And Thursday after midnight, a new one will be posted online.

I won't write in about the missing issues (I believe it's one or two) because they're always very nice and, here's a point for the web highlight, if you subscribe to the print edition, you have access to the full contents of the issue online. But more than that, you can search the archives and read articles from the nineties (I've mainly found articles from 1999; however, I've also found a few articles from 1993) -- anyone can search the archives but in most cases, you'll need to be a subscriber to read many articles you find via searching.

So there's a web highlight right there. Issue doesn't come in the mail but you subscribe? You can read the full contents online and you can also read articles going back several years if you subscribe.

Again, the issue that arrived today is already behind more than usual. (That's probably not a reflection on The Nation -- nor the missing issues -- and more to do with mail problems on this end.) So instead, we're going to spotlight the web site for the magazine.

At the web site, as most community members already know, you can read Katrina vanden Heuvel's Editor's Cut and Ari Berman's The Daily Outrage. (Both are permanent links provided on the side, the left side, of this site.)

We'll note KvH's latest Editor's Cut (first paragraph, click to read more):

The sterile term "collateral damage" justifiably brings to mind the human tragedy of war. But the devastating and wanton damage inflicted on the ancient city of Babylon by US-led military forces gives another meaning to the term. In this case, we are witnessing violence against one of the world's greatest cultural treasures. Babylon's destruction, according to The Guardian, "must rank as one of the most reckless acts of cultural vandalism in recent memory." When Camp Babylon was established by US-led international forces in April 2003, leading archeologists and international experts on ancient civilizations warned of potential peril and damage. It was "tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt or around Stonehenge in Britain," according to a damning report issued in January by the British Museum.

Both Editor's Cut and The Daily Outrage are features you can access online only. In addition, The Nation web site offers some features from the print edition of the magazine as well as articles available online only -- these articles are available to any visitor to the site, regardless of whether or not they subscribe to the print edition.

Here is an online only article by Lauren Bans, "Teachers for Peace:"

"We must be creative in our attempts to counter the action the government has taken," Nancy Romer, a teacher and leader of the American Federation of Teachers, said to open the conference's morning plenary. In practice, during the daylong series of workshops this meant analyzing how Bush's education initiatives have served to advance his military aims. The fact that the majority of soldiers fighting in Iraq are in their mid-20s or younger, and a little less than a year ago there were 2,500 soldiers under the age of 18 serving, hints at a connection between today's education system and military interest among youth.
In various ways, the conference's many workshops took up the same question: What is happening at high schools and campuses nationwide to propel large numbers of youth to join the armed forces? According to many participants, interest in the military among youth can be traced to Bush's flawed education policy. In the months following the 9/11 attack, while Bush forged ahead on military proposals, nearly all the domestic issues on the agenda were thrown to the wind, except for one--Bush's education reform: the No Child Left Behind Act.
Somehow, a military initiative snuck its way into the education bill. Within the 1,200 pages of NCLB lies a little-known provision that requires public schools not only to allow military recruiters to set up in school but to hand over students' contact information to recruiters. And while the provision does include an "opt out" clause for students, it is even less publicized than the provision itself. Many students have no idea their information is up for grabs in the first place. Last year, only an estimated 2 percent of students chose to protect their information. One of the major workshops of the conference was dedicated to organizing a more effective campaign against recruitment in schools and to making sure students know they don't have to disclose their information.

Another article available only at the web site is "Blogging, Journalism and Credibility"
by Rebecca MacKinnon. This is compiled from conference remarks as well as conversation conducted on the topic. We'll provide this excerpt:

Karen SchneiderDirector, Librarians' Index to the Internet, blogger at
I have heard a lot here today about the beginning of the information transaction where news is gathered and delivered in many formats, but I represent the other end.
About four years ago, I was a rural library director for a couple of years in upstate New York. We received a large check from our assemblymen--yes, that was pork, and yes, I am proud of it--and we used it to buy our first public Internet computer. Because our library was open twenty hours a week, we set up half-hour sessions where you could be online. This was in a town of 11,000 that was definitely underconnected to the Internet.
So when you talk about asking the user to do a lot of legwork and read up on everybody who is writing about all this, you can ask yourself: In a town that has one Internet-access computer for the general public, which is available for forty-one half-hour sessions per week, how is the user on one half-hour session during the week going to be able to do that?
Coming back to the ethical framework concept, I would like to say first that any ethical framework needs to start from not only the interest but the needs and limitations of the people that you are ultimately serving. I think that's really important. I think it's a great reality check to remind yourselves that most people are still not very well connected, not very well educated about the Internet. As my sister says, "What are these globs you keep talking about?"
And think about the eighth-grade student trying to look up information about tsunamis. Or, heaven help her, the student, teacher or librarian also trying to ferret through all these blogs and information. We have a proliferation of information, and we have a dearth of resources to help process and assess that information.

I do question the conversation at the end of the article and will criticize its inclusion in an article on The Nation web site. (And bet, had it appeared in print, a ton of letters would have arrived complaining.) Why? We've got at best a swing voter (undecided in November, 2004 -- and seeing only two possible choices -- The Nation, a political magazine for the left, highlighting someone who can't make up his mind between Bush or Kerry?) speaking
to two people, one of whom is right-wing. The left has more than enough diversity in voices without "balance" needing to be achieved by highlighting a right-wing blogger and certainly the could-swing-anyway-moderator is something better left to the NewsHour and Washington Week.

I'll assume it was an oversight that the third participant, Dan Gillmor, did not have his blog cited or linked in the article. To make up for that oversight, we'll provide it here Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, etc.

Finally, we'll note "Losing Ground" by Habiba Alcindor:

Gary Grant, president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, grew up on a farm in rural North Carolina. His parents arrived in Tillery, in the northeastern part of the state, in 1947 to take part in a New Deal resettlement program established to help families raise enough capital through farming to buy their own land, which the Grants were able to do.
However, droughts affecting the region in the 1970s forced them to apply for a USDA loan through their local Farm Services Agency. The Grants had been farming successfully for decades and owned ample collateral assets; nevertheless, like all black farmers in Halifax County, and a disproportionate number of minority farmers nationwide, they were deemed unfit to manage their money and their loan was placed in a supervised account.
This meant that whenever the Grants needed cash to purchase supplies and equipment, they first needed the approval of an account supervisor. Problems arose when the supervisor frequently delayed signing off on purchases, which held up the release of the money for so long that by the time the funding arrived, optimal seasonal conditions for planting or harvesting had passed. The delays meant that crops came in late and yield was lower, which translated into less profit for the Grants and an inability to make payments on time. The Grants battled the USDA until both of Gary's parents passed away in 2001, leaving behind an enormous debt and the oldest civil rights claim in American history, which has yet to be resolved.
Grant views his parents' tragedy as part of a larger pattern, one the
BFAA--whose motto is "A landless people is a hopeless people"--is struggling to change. The Seventh Annual Black Land Loss Summit, which took place in Tillery February 18-20 and was co-sponsored by the Black Land Loss Fund, sought to recognize and address the disappearance of black farmers and the agrarian culture they embody. The land owned by black farmers has dwindled from roughly 17 million acres in 1910 to roughly 7 million today. And the number of black farmers has declined by 98 percent since 1920, compared with a 66 percent decline in white farmers over the same period.

There's a lot of content available to non-subscribers to the print edition, so please check it out.
(And yes, The Nation is a permanent link on the left side of this page.) Also be aware that Alexander Cockburn appears in the print edition of The Nation; however, online, his writing (including that which appears in the print edition of The Nation) will be found at CounterPunch
which he edits with Jeffrey St. Clair.

We've highlighted CounterPunch before and will do so again. (It was intended to be one of the additions to a permanent links on the left for March. I wasn't able to get it up in time -- or two other sites -- so we'll add it in next month's rounds.) But if anyone's missed the site before, we'll go ahead and include one article here since co-editor Alexander Cockburn also appears in (the print version) of The Nation and anyone familiar with the print version may be interested in the biweekly magazine (CounterPunch) that he edits.

This is from Becky White's "Why I Hung from a Bridge to Defend the Wild Forests of the Siskiyou Mountains:"

On March 14th, I suspended myself on a small platform over the Green Bridge above the Wild and Scenic Illinois River. The truck rope that held my platform stretched across the road, closing all logging traffic to the Fiddler Timber Sale for 7 hours.
The choice to sit on the platform early that morning was fairly spontaneous, yet guided by years of study and a deep love for the wildplaces of southern Oregon.
The Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon are one of the most biodiverse places in this country. There are places with over 27 conifer species and six undammed rivers with vibrant salmon runs. The wild places of southern Oregon are unique, but their fate is unfortunately extremely tenuous.