October 7 will mark the eighth anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan. As Obama considers whether to send additional troops into the conflict, activists across the United States are using the month to call for an end to the war. Here are some actions you can take to demand a sensible policy from the Obama administration and a swift and safe resolution to the war.
War Resisters League
(warresisters .org) is organizing protests on October 5 in Washington and October 7 in New York to “surge peace and development and justice, not war and troops.”
is helping activists nationwide organize “Out of Afghanistan” house parties, where hosts can screen Rethink Afghanistan, the new documentary by filmmaker
, and bring together concerned citizens from their area for a discussion of the future of US involvement.
is collecting signatures for a petition on the “Women Say No to War!” portion of its website, which calls for a speedy and humane end to military engagement in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. CodePink4Peace.org also features a calendar of upcoming antiwar events and lectures focusing on peace and international women’s rights.
is calling on its more than 5 million members to e-mail the president and demand a plan to get troops out of Afghanistan as soon as possible, to let Obama know “we need an exit strategy–not tens of thousands more troops stuck in a quagmire.”
And on the night of the anniversary, the
American Friends Service Committee
United for Peace and Justice
are organizing candlelight vigils across the country to demand dialogue and development in Afghanistan–instead of more foreign troops. ELISABETH GARBER-PAUL
LONE STAR LEGACY:
used to joke about writing a history of the civil rights movement in East Texas with the title “No One Famous Ever Came.” While the great struggles of the 1960s in other Southern states drew national attention, the more complex but no less bitter battles to end discrimination against African-Americans and Latinos in Texas tend to be forgotten. Perhaps that is why the September 23 death of Texas liberal
at 83 earned less attention than was deserved. In 1962, when most Southern liberals were preaching caution on civil rights, Yarborough’s campaign for the Texas Democratic gubernatorial nomination promised to end discrimination, respect the rule of law and break the rule of the oil-monied elites.
Yarborough’s coalition of minorities, union members and Austin liberals came within 27,000 votes of upsetting conservative Democrat
. And the prospect that Yarborough might beat Connally in the 1964 primary brought President
John F. Kennedy
to Dallas in November 1963 to heal rifts within the party. Yarborough lost in ’64 and again in ’68, but the broad appeal of his homegrown progressivism was sufficient to inspire the next generation of Texas liberals–
, among others–to wrestle the state Democratic Party from the right and eventually win the governorship and other key posts. That’s Yarborough’s legacy: when no one famous came, he and his fellow Texas liberals built a progressive populist coalition that lingers to this day. JOHN NICHOLS
PITTSBURGH POLICE STATE:
Not a day had passed since the close of the
on September 25 before local officials began boasting of a job well done. But anti-G-20 groups and their lawyers are saying “not so fast” and beginning to lay the groundwork for lawsuits against the city for police misconduct. Asked to characterize Pittsburgh police tactics, the ACLU’s
was direct: “martial law.”
During the summit, 6,000 law enforcement personnel were mobilized, including 2,000 from the National Guard. Demonstrators faced a harsh, albeit predictable array of police tactics and munitions. City officials denied permits to protest groups or granted them only at the last minute. Only one rally was allowed to pass close to the summit, a “people’s march” on September 25 that drew an estimated 5,000 participants. Unpermitted marches on the evenings of September 24 and 25 were met with volleys of tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds, and, for the first reported time in the United States, a Long Range Acoustic Device–a weapon often used by militaries that can unleash a shrill sound that its manufacturer warns could cause permanent hearing loss.
“Use of that weapon is just asking for an excessive-use-of-force claim, especially if someone incurs injuries,” Walczak said.
Overall, police arrested 190 people, many of whom were curious bystanders during the unpermitted rally on September 25 at the University of Pittsburgh. The ACLU is investigating with an eye toward litigating claims of excessive force and unconstitutional orders to disperse lawful protesters. ROBERT ESHELMAN
STUDENTS TO THE SENATE:
On September 17 the House passed 253 to 171 the
Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act
. Although it falls short of a real bailout for students, it would “end the billions upon billions of dollars in unwarranted subsidies that we hand out to banks and financial institutions,” as President Obama puts it. By eliminating federally guaranteed private loans and lending directly to students, the government would save an estimated $87 billion over the next decade, which would be invested back into education, including a $40 billion increase in Pell Grants.
The bill split Representatives overwhelmingly down party lines, so as it moves to the Senate the bill may be in the hands of a few uncooperative Democrats like Nebraskan
, whose top campaign contributor is student lender
. The Senate vote is expected sometime in October.
is set for the challenge, planning a “Raising Pell Week of Action” for October 6-8, when it will be mobilizing students to fax, call and (of course) tweet their senators.
“It’s definitely going to be harder to pass this through the Senate,” says
Pedro de la Torre III
of Campus Progress. “But we’re optimistic. In our minds, it’s pure common sense…. But with the lenders engaging in their shenanigans, it’s very important to get involved.” ANDREA D’CRUZ