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Yesterday we featured the peace concert being planned by Nation reader and bassist Brandon Kwiatek in Allentown, Pennsylvania on March 19, which will conclude a series of antiwar vigils scheduled across the Lehigh Valley that day.
Continuing our countdown to the second anniversary of Bush's invasion of Iraq and the nationwide series of rallies, marches, nonviolent civil disobedience and creative expressions of antiwar sentiment that are expected to meet the occasion, we wanted to highlight another event being organized by a Nation reader--Jacob Flowers--in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sponsored by the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, an interfaith, inter-racial organization dedicated to education and advocacy for peace and justice issues operating in Memphis since 1982, the group asks people to join them at a rally at 12:00 noon on March 19 at the First Congregational Church, to be followed by a march to Veterans Plaza in Memphis's Overton Park, where they'll be music, food and more speakers. Flowers asks Nation readers to "help make this the largest antiwar demonstration this city [Memphis] has ever seen." Click here for more info on the event and the Center itself. And if you're in the Memphis area, click here to download a flyer and help get the word out.
As the antiwar coalition UFPJ reports, last year on the first anniversary of the invasion, there were at least 319 antiwar events in cities and towns across the United States. This month, they're looking to increase that number after a disastrous year of continued body counts and billions of dollars wasted on an illegal and immoral occupation.
It's time to start making plans for what are expected to be a nationwide series of antiwar protests from March 18 to March 20 to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The antiwar coalition United for Peace & Justice is calling for vigils, rallies, marches, nonviolent civil disobedience and creative expressions of antiwar sentiment of all kinds.
As UFPJ reports, last year on the first anniversary of the invasion, there were at least 319 antiwar events in cities and towns across the United States. This month, they're looking to increase that number after a disastrous year of continued body counts and billions of dollars wasted on an illegal and immoral occupation.
In the coming days, we'll be highlighting some of the many grassroots, antiwar efforts taking place on March 19th. Today, I'd like to thank Nation reader and bassist Brandon Kwiatek for alerting us to what's happening in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania where his acoustic duo Real West will stage a free concert at Bethlehem Book Loft & The Caffeine Café from 8:00 to 10:00pm. The concert, called War is a Wonderful Thing: An Evening of Dissent, will be the culmination of a series of antiwar vigils and rallies scheduled across the Lehigh Valley that day.
In the interest of promoting solidarity within the Lehigh Valley progressive movement, Kwiatek writes, a number of local organizations will participate or distribute information during the concert: Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Bethlehem); Progressive Students Alliance (chapters from Lehigh University and Northampton Community College); LEPOCO Peace Center; Moravian College's chapter of Amnesty International-USA.
During the week of President's Day, Senators and Representatives go home on recess. 20/20 Vision and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) are taking advantage of this break to arrange meetings between representatives and their constituents to talk about ending the war in Iraq. And it's not too late to sign up.
As David Corn recently reported in The Nation, Congressional Dems have already begun the fight to end the occupation. Rep. Lynn Wolsey introduced a bill demanding immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and Rep. Marty Meehan is asking for a specific timetable for withdrawal over the next 18 months. However, no real progress can be made on these issues until Democrats and Republicans in both houses start hearing the voices and seeing the faces of the 56 percent of Americans who are now dissatisfied with the way President Bush has handled the war in Iraq, according to a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.
As 20/20 Vision reports in its newsletter, "legislators routinely speak about how much more effective it is the hear from constituents in their home districts…meeting three people at home has more impact that 50 meetings here in DC." So click here to sign up for 20/20 Vision and FCNL's Interfaith Lobby Days for Iraq, click here for advice about how to best conduct the lobbying, and click here to learn more about the FCNL's lobbying strategy.
It's also time to start making plans for what are expected to be a nationwide series of antiwar protests on Saturday, March 19, the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The antiwar coalition United for Peace & Justice is calling for vigils, rallies, marches, nonviolent civil disobedience and creative expressions of antiwar sentiment of all kinds. Check out the UFP website for more info.
Co-written by Mark Hatch-Miller.
On February 10, a jury in New York City convicted longtime activist attorney Lynne Stewart of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists, defrauding the government and making false statements.
But, as David Cole comments in the latest issue of The Nation, rather than making us safer, this conviction "illustrates how out of hand things have gotten in the 'war on terrorism'...To inflate its successes in ferreting out terrorism," Cole adds, "the Justice Department turned an administrative infraction into a terrorism conviction that, unless reversed, will likely send Stewart to prison for the rest of her life."
Stewart's transgression--violating an administrative agreement to not convey any communication between her client and the outside world, is--as Cole says, simply not a crime. "In an ordinary case, the lawyer might receive a warning. In an unusual case, the lawyer might be barred from continuing to visit her client. In an extraordinary case, the lawyer might be brought up on disciplinary charges before the bar."
But the prosecution, intent on winning a cheap "terror" conviction for its perceived public relations value, went on a transparently politically-motivated witch-hunt, and unfortunately was able to convince a jury of its spurious claims that Stewart helped abet terrorism.
Let's do all we can to help taint this PR "victory," and help save Stewart from an unjust prison sentence. Click here to read and circulate law professor Elaine Cassell's essay arguing that the Stewart verdict has stretched the definition of terrorism to its outer limits, click here to send a letter in support of Stewart, and click here to contribute to her legal defense fund. And follow www.lynnestewart.org for the latest developments in her case.
Last December, I mentioned the plight of Vietnamese political prisoner Dr. Nguyen Dan Que. An endocrinologist by training, Que was detained without trial from 1978 to 1988 after he criticized national health care policy. After his release, he established a democratic-rights movement, for which he was arrested in 1990 and sentenced to another 20 years' imprisonment.
I highlighted a letter-writing campaign led by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights calling for Que's release on both legal and humanitarian grounds and asked Nation readers to join in.
We were then thrilled to hear from Erik Giblin of the RFK Center sharing the great news that Que was released on January 31 and is now resting comfortably at home. So many thanks to the RFK Center for its tireless work on Que's behalf and thanks to all Nation readers who contributed to the campaign which led to his freedom.
Over the past seven years, V-Day, the global movement started by playwright/performer Eve Ensler, has raised more than $25 million to support organizations working to stop violence against women and girls. The spotlight of V-Day 2005 focuses on the increased threats faced by the women of Iraq, given the rise in fundamentalism and the raging war.
As Meera Subramanian writes on the Planned Parenthood website, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq reports a rise in attacks on women by fundamentalist Islamic groups, including horrific incidents of women being beaten and killed for going out unveiled, going to a hairdresser, or wearing Western clothing. Female education is also taking a hit as women university students are dropping their studies, fearing assault.
Michael Chertoff received adulation at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing to consider his nomination as Secretary of Homeland Security on February 2. Senators of both parties praised Chertoff, a former US Attorney and Assistant Attorney General who is giving up a lifetime appointment to the Third Circuit US Court of Appeals in New Jersey, as a distinguished public servant. Despite his many accomplishments, however, Chertoff's role in helping shape some of the Bush Administration's most controversial policies deserve far more scrutiny than they've received to date.
As Dave Lindorff's recent Nation editorial argues, Chertoff effectively prevented early exposure of the Bush/Rumsfeld/Gonzales policy of torture by making a plea agreement with "American Taliban" fighter John Walker Lindh, which required him to remain silent about his treatment. According to human rights attorney Michael Ratner, Chertoff's decision to prevent Lindh from speaking out about abuse at Guantanamo could have contributed to the "migration" of torture to Abu Ghraib.
A comprehensive ACLU study released last week goes further in surveying Chertoff's record and raises questions about the sincerity of the nominee's strong pledges of support for civil liberties and of opposition to racial profiling.
Click here to read and circulate the ACLU'S report and click here to write to your Senators asking them to carefully consider the questions about Chertoff before voting on his nomination. Even though his nomination is expected to pass, possibly as soon as this week, there's still value in helping lay out his record and the many valid questions an honest examination of his past suggests.
Co-written by Mark Hatch Miller
Join The Nation, Domini Social Investments and Working Assets in supporting this weekend's Responsible Wealth Conference and Lobby Day in Washington, DC, taking place from February 6 to 8.
President Bush knows he's in for a fight on Social Security, but he's counting on being able to make his tax cuts permanent with little opposition. This conference is dedicated to proving him wrong. Come to DC and use your voice to call for progressive taxation, the preservation of the estate tax, and legislative polices that will decrease the wealth gap and shrink the racial economic divide.
As the violence in Iraq escalates ahead of Sunday's national elections, there are disturbing reports of intimidation, death threats and murders specifically targeting members of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).
These reports come on the heels of the torture and assassination in Baghdad on January 4 of Hadi Salih, the International Secretary of IFTU.
In protest, please click here to join Nation writers Katha Pollitt, Doug Henwood, Marc Cooper, Adam Shatz, Norman Birnbaum, Carl Bromley and many others in signing on to the Campaign for Peace and Democracy's statement condemning attacks on Iraqi trade unionists.
And start making plans for what are expected to be a nationwide series of antiwar protests on Saturday, March 19, the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The antiwar coalition United for Peace & Justice is calling for vigils, rallies, marches, nonviolent civil disobedience and creative expressions of antiwar sentiment of all kinds. Check out the UFP website for more info.
A few weeks ago in this space, I wrote about the more than two dozen civil rights and human rights groups who had raised what they called 'serious concerns' over President Bush's nomination of Alberto Gonzales to replace John Ashcroft as Attorney General.
Since that time, the opposition to Gonzales's appointment has picked up steam, particularly as more information comes out about the nominee's efforts to support the White House in its attempts to override both US law and the Geneva Conventions on torture.
As the Washington Post reported today in a front-page story, in March of 2002, the CIA asked for a legal review--the first ever by the government--of how much pain a US intelligence officer could inflict on a prisoner without violating US law outlawing torture of detainees. "White House counsel Gonzales chaired the meetings on this issue, which included detailed descriptions of interrogation techniques such as 'waterboarding,' a tactic intended to make detainees feel as if they are drowning." As R. Jeffrey Smith and Dan Eggen continue, Gonzales "raised no objections and without consulting military and State Department experts in the laws of torture and war, approved an August 2002 memo that gave CIA interrogators the legal blessings they sought."
Subsequently, Gonzales ignored the objections of State Department and military lawyers and strongly endorsed the determination of Justice Department lawyers that neither the Geneva Convention nor corresponding US laws on prisoner protections should be applied in the "war on terror."
Revelations like these have generated widespread opposition to what most considered an easy confirmation battle. Joining a host of liberal groups opposing the nomination, a dozen high-ranking retired military officers took the rare step on Monday of signing a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing "deep concern" over the nomination of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general.
They understand, as Robert Scheer makes clear in his syndicated weekly column, that what's at stake with the nomination is whether Congress wants to absolve Gonzales of his attempt to have the President subvert US law in order to whitewash barbaric practices performed by US interrogators in the name of national security.
Gonzales's Senate hearings begin tomorrow. Please click here to send a letter to Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter, the co-chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee who will be leading the hearings, asking them to make sure the nominee receives a thorough vetting.
And read and circulate David Cole's December 6, 2004 Nation magazine editorial making clear why Gonzales is the wrong choice.
There are also numerous other activist resources online courtesy of some of America's most steadfast progressive advocacy groups. Human Rights First launched a new website devoted to ending torture and is publishing a special blog by Avi Cover directly from the hearings all day on Thursday. The Center for American Progress has produced a set of ten questions Gonzales should be asked during his hearings. People for the American Way has published a review of Gonzales's repeated failures as a public official to meet the standards that should be expected of the nation's highest law enforcement officer. The Alliance for Justice has released a detailed lawyer's letter critical of the nominee and the Center for Constitutional Rights--which has represented many of the victims of US abuse--is forcefully urging all Americans concerned over the use of torture to oppose the nomination.
As Scheer concludes his column this week, "to make a man with so little respect for both the spirit and the letter of the law the nation's top law enforcement official would be a terrible advertisement for American democracy."
So join the protests today.
The earthquake and tsunami that ravaged thousands of coastline villages from Thailand to Somalia this past weekend has prompted an urgent need for relief from the international community. With the death toll at 76,000 and rising quickly, the threat of infectious diseases is increasing rapidly as entire islands go without clean water and medicine.
The Bush Administration initially announced a $15 million aid package in response to the disaster, and upped that to $35 million yesterday in the face of mounting public pressure. Jan Egeland, the UN's emergency relief coordinator, got the ball rolling when he criticized the US's contributions to economically-struggling countries around the world as "stingy" in recent years.
Unfortunately, Egeland's criticism finds support in the numbers: the New York Times reported this morning that the US is among the least generous nations in the world in proportion to the size of its economy when it comes to providing assistance to poor countries.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2003 contributions by the US represented only 0.14 percent of the US gross national income, making it the smallest donor percentagewise among developed nations. By contrast, Egeland's native Norway gave 0.92 percent of its gross national income; Denmark, 0.84 percent; the Netherlands, 0.81 percent; Luxembourg, 0.80 percent; and Sweden, 0.70 percent.
The non-partisan group, Americans for Informed Democracy, is calling on US citizens to register their support for the US government to demonstrate far more principled, aggressive and generous leadership in responding to the tsunami disaster than is currently being shown. Click here to sign and send a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell and click here to read eyewitness dispatches from BBC correspondents filing from affected areas around the region as relief efforts get underway.
Beyond the actions of the US government, private citizens can also lend a hand. Given the dire state of affairs, it's hard to imagine a more valuable effort to contribute to at this time. Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam America and UNICEF are three good groups accepting donations for the relief effort. And click here for a larger list of organizations, courtesy of the Washington Post.
Co-written by Patrick Mulvaney.