Las Vegas, Nevada AFL-CIO PRESIDENT John Sweeney is known for his bromides, and, at the opening of the Federation’s semiannual executive council meeting, he didn’t disappoint. “I think the labor movement has done some pretty great things over the last years,” he declared on February 28. But, at this three-day meeting, his studied complacency was punctured by threats, accusations, denunciations, and hand-wringing from the more than 50 union presidents who had come to Las Vegas.
SOME YEARS AGO I SPENT A weekend in Las Vegas and enjoyed it. The bounteous vulgarity in every possible way, from displays to entertainments to phalanxes of slot machines, seemed to me exactly what it ought to be. Anything more chaste and sensible would have been out of order, a disappointment. I watch the Oscars every year, and I have more or less the same reaction: that everything is in character.
For a long time now, whenever I've gone to Los Angeles, I've been alarmed by how impossibly tall the palm trees have grown. Whether I'm driving in Santa Monica or Venice, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, or Pasadena, the familiar sight of row after row of palm trees, their thin, fibrous trunks topped by rough-hewn, yet shimmering fronds stretching hundreds of feet into the broad, shadowless light, has come to fill me with gloom.
AS THE WORLD’S bankers gathered last September in the Persian Gulf city of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the annual International Monetary Fund/World Bank meetings, talk inevitably turned to the economic stagnation of the Arab world. The statistics are grim: The 280 million people of the 22 Arab countries have a combined gross domestic product (GDP) less than that of 40 million Spaniards, some 25 percent of Arabs live below the poverty line, and some 20 million are out of work. The region’s economic growth—an insipid 0.5 percent over the past 30 years—is among the lowest i
John Sweeney's name rarely appears in print without the word "militant" attached to it. Sweeney first gained national prominence in 1995, when, as president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), he led striking janitors in a sit-in that blocked morning rush-hour traffic on Washington, D.C.'s Fourteenth Street Bridge for two hours. Later that year, Sweeney burnished his reputation as a confrontationalist by running (and winning) an insurgent campaign in the first-ever contested election for the presidency of the AFLl-CIO. Heavy-set and balding, Sweeney comes across like central c
Political corruption comes in two forms. Most familiar is the hand-in-the-till variety: bribes, payoffs, influence-peddling, lobbyists lining the pockets of public officials in exchange for access and favors. This corruption thrives in secrecy, and is usually condemned when exposed. But another kind of corruption arises, by degree, in full public view. It involves no theft or fraud, but rather a change in the habits of citizens, a turning away from public responsibilities. This second, civic corruption, is more insidious than the first. It violates no law, but enervates the spirit on which go
I. My dream was to become Frank Sinatra. I loved his phrasing, especially when he was very young and pure….