Peter Rothberg

Youth Plan Mass Civil Disobedience to Protest Keystone XL This Sunday

This article is copyright the Nation, where it originally appeared, and is reprinted here with their permission.

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The Public Option Needs Your Help

The healthcare battle is in full swing with the past month's news being dominated by shouting scenes of corporate-sponsored "movements" confronting healthcare reform supporters at town hall meetings coast to coast.

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Who Is David Paterson and What Kind of Governor Will He Be?

With the stunning Spitzer sex scandal looking like it can only end with the New York governor's resignation, Lt. Governor David Paterson is set to become the new chief executive of New York. (And in a serious karmic slap to Spitzer, the governor's arch-nemesis, Joseph Bruno, would become acting Lt. Governor.) Rumors are swirling that Patterson could be sworn in as early as tonight.

Who is Paterson? His two most obvious, if not salient, features are that he's blind and he's black, which would make him the first blind governor in the country and only the fourth African-American to run a state in US history.

Paterson was elected to the state Senate in 1985, representing a district that included Manhattan's Harlem, and rose to become New York's highest-ranking black legislator. The son of former New York Secretary of State Basil Paterson, who was the first African American NYC Deputy Mayor, the first to run for statewide office in New York, and the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 1970, Paterson gained the post of Senate minority leader in 2002. In 2004, he became the first blind person to address the Democratic National Convention.

What kind of governor will he be? No one really knows but here's a video I found on YouTube of Paterson speaking at Albany's National Reform Day last April.

Students Suspended For Promoting Safer Sex

Over the past seven years, as Michael Reynolds wrote in a Nation cover story last June, George W. Bush's faith-based Administration has transformed the small-time abstinence-only business into a billion-dollar industry profiting off tax-payer money being spent on ineffective new school curriculum.

"I can't think of another federal program where so much money was spent without any oversight and to such little effect," James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, told Reynolds. "It wasn't that policy-makers didn't know that abstinence-only didn't work. In 2000 the Institute of Medicine issued a scathing report on these programs. But they went full steam ahead despite the warning. It's beyond naïve. It's immoral."

Thanks to recent Nation guest blogger Jessica Valenti for alerting me to the story of two eighth grade students in St. Louis who felt the same way and recently tried to protest this naivete and immorality. Other than a local CNN report, Valenti's website,, was the first -- and still one of the only -- publications or broadcast operations on or off-line to report on Tori Shoemaker and Cheyenne Byrd's brave stand against abstinence-only education.

The two students at Louis & Clark Junior High School protested their school's abstinence-only education program by wearing shirts to school adorned with condoms, reading "Safe Sex or No Sex." For daring to make a statement, they were suspended for two days from school by the regional superindent, who called the shirts "inappropriate" and a "distraction." As Valenti adds: "Yes, because a 'distraction' in the form of free speech is clearly much worse than spreading dangerous misinformation about sex to teens."

The CNN video shows the girls to be smart, thoughtful, engaged citizens--just the sort of students our schools should be proud of producing.


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