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Top 20 US progressives: Van Jones

Former White House official-turned-activist.

One of the most prominent environmentalists in the United States, Anthony Kapel "Van" Jones won international acclaim for his 2008 book, The Green-Collar Economy. Young, articulate and energetic, he was appointed by Barack Obama to the newly created position of special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation in March 2009. Overnight, he became a bête noire of Fox News and the US right, which attacked him for past criticisms of Republicans ("assholes") and his support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Philadelphia man sentenced to death for murdering a police officer.

In September 2009, six months after taking up the post, Jones was forced to resign after his name allegedly appeared on a "9/11 truth" petition from 2004. Since leaving the White House, he has launched the Rebuild the Dream campaign, intended to be a progressive counterpart to the Tea Party, and he will shortly publish a book of the same name.

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This article first appeared in the 09 January 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Forget Obama