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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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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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