SAJAforum: Rekha Basu on John McCain’s Meeting with the Des Moines Register’s Editorial Board

Last Tuesday, Sen. John McCain met with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register in a bid to once again obtain the paper’s endorsement. (In December, shortly before the Iowa caucuses, the Register endorsed McCain and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the nominees of their respective parties.) As news outlets widely reported, and as you can see for yourself in the video to the right, the interview at times became somewhat contentious.

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SAJAforum: McCain and Obama Debate Afghanistan and Pakistan

The South Asian subcontinent continued to feature prominently in the presidential race this week, as Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama clashed over U.S. policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan during their debate on Friday night. In the New York Times, David Sanger characterizes the exchange as a "role reversal," with Obama seeming "more aligned" than McCain "with President Bush’s current policy of authorizing American special forces to cross the Afghan-Pakistan border into Pakistan’s tribal areas that Al Qaeda and the Taliban have used as a sanctuary."

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SAJAforum: South Asian Women React to Sarah Palin

Aisha SultanSAJAer Aisha Sultan, the home and family editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has a column this weekend discussing what she calls the "Palin Paradox," the irony of Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin’s intense support among social conservatives who, not long ago, might have "pilloried" a woman and mother who made the kinds of choices that Palin has made in her career:

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SAJAforum: Five Questions for Rinku Sen

Rinku Sen with Fekkak Mamdouh, The Accidental AmericanThis month, Rinku Sen launches a new book, "The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization." In the book, Sen, along with Fekkak Mamdouh, narrates the story of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York, an organization that supports and organizes workers in New York’s restaurant industry. ROC-NY was initially founded by Mamdouh and fellow organizer Saru Jayaraman to support workers, like Mamdouh himself, who were displaced from their jobs at Windows on the World, the restaurant that was at the top of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. In the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attack, which claimed the lives of 72 individuals who worked at Windows, ROC-NY helped the surviving Windows workers launch a cooperatively-owned restaurant, Colors. Since then, the organization has expanded its work to organize and advocate for improved working conditions for restaurant workers throughout New York City, and has explored the prospects for expanding its work nationally.

Sen and Mamdouh tell the story of ROC-NY’s founding and the ups and downs of its subsequent campaigns on behalf of New York’s restaurant workers, critically assessing the challenges faced by advocates for immigrants’ rights and drawing lessons from the local story about ROC-NY for the broader, national debates over immigration reform and globalization. Sen previously wrote about ROC-NY in a 2007 article, and she and Mamdouh discuss the themes of the book in a short video prepared in connection with the book’s release. They launch a national book tour in New York on September 3, 2008 (details are available here).

Sen is currently president and executive director of the Applied Research Center and publisher of ColorLines, ARC’s magazine on race and politics. She began her career as an organizer in 1988 with the Center for Third World Organizing and was named one of Ms. Magazine’s "21 Feminists to Watch in the 21st Century" back in 1996. Her previous book, "Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy," offers advice for activists and social change organizations based on her own experiences as an organizer and other case studies. She recently answered a few questions from SAJAforum about her new book, the role of journalism in her work as a community organizer, and her views on the current debate over immigration reform:

Continue reading at SAJAforum….

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SAJAforum: London Mayor Boris Johnson “Struts His Funky Stuff”

Last week, London’s new Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson made a pitch in support of the upcoming London Mela, a major festival celebrating British Asian arts and culture that some have called the "Asian Glastonbury." Speaking at the press launch for the festival, which will be held in early August, Johnson urged Londoners to "get on down" to the festival and "strut [their] funky stuff." He acknowledged that he had merely a "passing" acquaintance with bhangra and reminisced about his effort to learn some moves at a cousin’s wedding in Delhi:

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