Short Takes: News From All Over: May 20, 2004

May 20, 2004

| May 2004

Class Matters
'Talk less, listen more. Put relationships first. Have a little humility.' Offering such 'tips from working-class activists' is just one of's strategies to help community organizers collaborate across class lines and build stronger movements for change. Though aimed mostly at middle-class organizers, is worth a visit no matter your class, and even if you've never organized a dinner party, let alone a social movement. The site, a companion to Betsy Leondar-Wright's forthcoming book (Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle-Class Activists; New Society Publishers, Spring 2005), offers thoughtful ways of discussing a subject that is so often met with silence. provides an extensive 'working definitions' of class, as well as a new take on why Americans of all education and income levels overwhelmingly define themselves as 'middle class.' The site suggests that few want to identify themselves as 'lower class' -- the term generally used on surveys. But when 'working class' was offered in a 1998 survey, 45% of the population chose it. -- Erica Sagrans

Health Insurance Data Briefs
By Staff, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Needy Americans are more likely to get health insurance during times of prosperity or economic rebound, right? Not necessarily, CEPR finds. 'Americans are less likely to be covered by health insurance today than just 5 years ago.' That reflects four years of Bush, of course; but here's the kicker: 'While the decrease began during the economic contraction of the late 1990's, new research by CEPR indicates that the trend continues during the recovery.' -- Jacob Wheeler

Feminism's Assumptions Upended
By Barbara Ehrenreich, Los Angeles Times
The photos of abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq broke Barbara Ehrenreich's heart, she says, because they dispelled illusions she had about women. 'A certain kind of feminism, or perhaps I should say a certain kind of feminist naivet?, died in Abu Ghraib. It was a feminism that saw men as the perpetual perpetrators, women as the perpetual victims and male sexual violence against women as the root of all injustice.' Mary Jo Melone wrote in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: 'I can't get that picture of [Pfc. Lynndie] England [pointing at a hooded Iraqi man's genitals] out of my head because this is not how women are expected to behave. Feminism taught me 30 years ago that not only had women gotten a raw deal from men, we were morally superior to them.' -- Jacob Wheeler,1,1902068.story

Library at Alexandria Discovered
By Dr. David Whitehouse, BBC News
The oldest university in the world has more to teach us now that a team of Polish and Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed what they believe to be the Library at Alexandria, which 2,000 years ago housed works by the greatest thinkers and writers of the ancient world. Works by Plato and Socrates and many others were later destroyed in a fire. -- Jacob Wheeler

Nick Berg's Killing: 50 Fishy Circumstances, Contradictory Claims and Video Anomalies
By Decon Recon,
The ugly scene of Islamic militants decapitating Nick Berg in front of the world may not be quite what it seems. Kuro5hin reveals plenty of reasons to wonder whether the United States military is being forthright with us. Among them: The perpetrator in the video couldn't have been infamous terrorist Abu Masab Al-Zaraqawi, as the CIA tells us, because Zaraqawi has a prosthetic leg, a hand tattoo, and speaks with a Jordanian accent ... none of which applied to the murderer in the video tape. -- Jacob Wheeler

The Revolution is My Boyfriend!
By Dylan Hicks, CityPages
Films like Raspberry Reich, Trannyfags, and Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World couldn't be shown just anywhere. That's why the Twin Cities are the proud hosts of the Flaming Film Festival this weekend. Going against the mainstream is chic these days because, as Hicks writes in CityPages, 'the advantage of having an archconservative American president, according to a certain line of thinking, is that he plants the seeds of revolt.' -- Jacob Wheeler