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Peter Rothberg | The Nation

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Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg

Opposing war, racism, sexism, climate change, economic injustice and high-stakes testing.

Resisting US Pressure for War—UPDATED

The Observer newspaper (London) reported recently that the United States is conducting a secret surveillance campaign against UN Security Council delegations as part of its battle to win votes in favor of war against Iraq. Details of the operation, which involves the interception of the telephone calls and emails of UN delegates, were revealed in a National Security Agency memo leaked to the newspaper.

Now, more than ever, it's critical to show support for those countries trying to resist US bullying, bribing and now, wiretapping. There are a number of concrete gestures you can take that may really help these nations stiffen their opposition to the proposed US/UK/Spanish UN war resolution.

If you're part of a civic, business, non-profit or community group, try to set up meetings this week with the UN missions, embassies and consulates of these non-permanent members of the UN Security Council: Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Guinea, Cameroon and Angola. Let them know that you think that both the US's and their own country's interests will be much better served by peace than war. Remind them that the world is on their side as are many Americans as well. Check out our list of consultate offices coast to coast. There may be one much closer than you'd think.

If you can't get a quick meeting scheduled, send flowers, cards, emails and other tokens of appreciation to these nation's reps imploring them to hold firm and continue resisting the US's coercive tactics.

Click here for full contact info for consulates and missions as well as email addresses for each member of the UN Security Council. And see Coalition of the Coerced, a new report issued by the Institute for Policy Studies, for advice on drafting the most effective letters possible.

Time appears short, but after a weekend of setbacks, the US seems increasingly isolated in its efforts to rally international diplomatic and military support for war in Iraq. Bush and Co. seem poised to thwart world opinion and go at it alone, but the more we do to oppose unilateral war, the harder it'll be for them to proceed.

*****

Upcoming Antiwar Events:

On International Women's Day, March 8, Code Pink will convene thousands of people in Washington, DC for a women-led rally and march to encircle the White House.

On March 15 , a number of groups, led by International Answer , are organizing an emergency convergence at the White House

On March 22, United for Peace and Justice is planning another march in New York City, this time, hopefully, with a city permit.

Stay tuned.

A Convergence of Opposition

The growing antiwar movement is building on the considerable momentum of the historic February 15 protests with a series of marches, petition drives, lobbying efforts and teach-ins planned for the weeks ahead.

The next major day of coordinated national actions is March 5 when a day of student strikes is planned by the National Youth and Student coalition; on International Women's Day, March 8 , thousands of people will converge on Washington, DC for a women-led rally and march to encircle the White House; on March 15 , a number of groups, led by International Answer, are organizing an emergency convergence at the White House, and the Win Without War coalitionis sponsoring innovative cyber-activism and creative antiwar advertising. Information on upcoming US events can be best be found at United for Peace and Justice and paxprotest.net. The best place to find out about European protests, in English, is the Stop the War coalition's website.

Join the Cities for Peace campaign, which has already persuaded one hundred and twenty-one cities and counties nationwide, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Des Moines to issue antiwar resolutions. Local resolutions have no role, of course, in shaping federal policy, but they underscore the widespread opposition to US military action against Iraq and highlight the impact that war will have on city and state budgets. Click here for a full list of the citieswhich have passed resolutions to date and here for the Resolution Tool Kit.

Sign an online call or petition opposing US empire-building in the Middle East: MoveOn.org calls for letting the inspections work, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy asks for a sane foreign policy that opposes both Saddam Hussein and an invasion of Iraq, the Pledge of Resistance vows to conduct militant civil disobedience in the face of an unprovoked US attack and Code Pink asks the world to finally "Listen to the Women."

Looking for speakers? A project of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, the Iraq Speakers Bureau provides access to policy experts, diplomats, NGO officials, human rights activists and public health researchers for events or classes.

The antiwar movement is also proving clever and creative on the cultural front. Dissident artwork, literature, street theatre, poetry, painting, music and postering are all flourishing coast to coast. Check out Poets Against the War , the No War sign project , Peace-Not-War.org and FucktheWar.com , which offers free in-your-face email addressess.

Join the Feb. 26 'March' on Washington

As with marching, the objective is to bring an antiwar message to the attention of political leaders in Washington. But instead of taking to the streets, activists tomorrow will try to overwhelm government switchboards and email accounts with antiwar missives and calls.

The Win Without War coalition is asking supporters to call, fax and email the White House and Congress Wednesday in a "virtual march" to demonstrate the breadth and depth of antiwar sentiment nationwide. The goal is to hit each and every Senate office with one antiwar call each minute, at the same time as countless antiwar email messages pour into government servers across Washington.

You can have a fax sent on your behalf free of charge by True Majority , you can register to make calls where needed, or you can contact your reps on your own. (Click here for Congressional contact info.) This should all help serve notice to our legislators that there could be electoral hell to pay for a quick rush to war. And MoveOn has made it very easy to tell your friends about the virtual march. Activism has never been easier.

Rebel Music

Every movement needs its culture, and the still-emerging antiwar movement is proving clever and creative on this front. Dissident artwork, literature, street theatre, poetry, painting, and postering are all flourishing nationwide.

There's also been a spate of new antiwar songs, many of which are actually good. Billy Bragg came through with a typically smart protest number, rendered in classic folk tradition, called the Price of Oil. It's available now for free downloading, streaming and emailing. Ani DiFranco's powerful prose poem/song, Peace Not War, is similarly inspiring with a funkier beat. It's also worth reading her lyrics if you can't access the audio on your computer. The British anarchist group Chumbawamba gave its first live performance in four years at the January 18 Washington, DC antiwar march. Among the songs they played was Jacob's Ladder (Not In our Name), an antiwar tune written a week earlier.

All three of these tracks are also available as part of an eclectic new fundraising album put out by peace-not-war.org, an international network of musicians, to support Britain's Stop the War coalition. Also featured on the two-CD compilation are Massive Attack, Public Enemy, Ginger Tom and Midnight Oil, among many other socially conscious musical artists.

Chris and Kate, the unsung Canadian duo who co-founded the legendary Toronto-based bar band the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, have also recorded a compelling new single, Resist War, which they're making available for free downloading off their website.

You can also download the Nation's now-classic Block Bush cover of the September 30, 2002 issue of the mag. Conceived by John Carr, Block Bush, which quickly became a celebrated piece of protest art, is now available for printing and emailing. It'll work as a sign at marches and rallies. As a window placard for your living room or car. As a good email surprise. Or as something to simply keep on hand to pass out wherever you see fit.

Takin' it to the Streets--UPDATED

In an unprecedented show of international solidarity, millions of people around the world turned out today to protest the Bush Administration's plans to invade Iraq.

It was a day of history-making in London, where 1 million people made the demo the largest protest in the history of the British capital. Turnout was boosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair's ready enlistment in Bush's "coalition of the willing" against Iraq. Click here to hear audio of the day's speeches, songs and activities.

New York City saw its largest protest since the historic June 12, 1982 antinuclear rally in Central Park. And if today had been as warm as that June day was, who knows how many more people would've swelled the ranks of the estimated 300,000 who came out, braving windchill temperatures of four degrees.

The huge crowd, prohibited by court order from marching, did just that within sight of the United Nations amid heavy security. "The World Says No to War," proclaimed a huge banner draped over a stage on First Avenue near 51st Street, the focal point of a vast crowd that packed First Avenue from 49th to 72nd Streets and spilled over into the side streets and to Second, Third and Lexington Avenues, where thousands more were cordoned off behind police barricades. You can listen to the entire event thanks to WBAI . And click here to see what some of the protesters came to NYC to say.

There was another huge turnout in Rome, with a crowd said to number more than 1 million, many displaying rainbow peace flags and anti-Berlusconi/Bush signs. The march in the capital of another of Bush's staunch allies, Melbourne, Australia, drew 200,000 people, which was particularly impressive considering that the entire country only has a population of 20 million total. In Germany, 400,000-500,000 people marched through Berlin, backing the country's strong antiwar stance spearheaded by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The Greeks came out in force, with 80,000 packing Syntagma Square in the heart of downtown Athens, and another 10,000 marching in the ancient port-city of Thessaloniki.

In Barcelona, Spanish police estimated that up to 1.3 million people marched in support of peace, with around 200,000 marching in Seville and more than 600,000 in Madrid. Hundreds of thousands marched in Paris, shouting slogans against the war and George W. Bush. Some of those in the first rows of the march were recognizeable figures from the right-wing nationalist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen to the global justice movement's hero Jose Bove.

Police estimated that 100,000 people turned out in Dublin, Ireland, 60,000 in Oslo, Norway, 50,000 in bitter cold Brussels, 35,000 in frigid Stockholm, 25,000 in Copenhagen and Amsterdam, 20,000 in Vancouver, Canada and Sao Paulo, Brazil, 5,000 in Capetown, 4,000 in Johannesburg in South Africa, 5,000 in Tokyo, 3,000 in Vienna, 2,000 each in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sofia, Bulgaria and Tel Aviv, 600 in downtown Hong Kong and 50 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Click here for a more thorough roundup of international events.

And, if you're on the west coast of the US, you still have your march to go to tomorrow, February 16, in San Francisco.

It's unclear how the Bush Administration will react to this latest unmistakable show of opposition to war. But the antiwar movement has momentum. There's the upcoming National Student Strike Against the War as well as a host of women's antiwar actions sponsored by Code Pink.

Stay tuned to United for Peace and Justice's site for details onthese and other antiwar organizing efforts.

March for Peace on February 15

This Saturday should see the largest US and international protests yet against the Bush Administration's plans to invade Iraq. Major actions are planned nationwide and abroad in more than 528 cities including London, Prague, Berlin, Cape Town and Barcelona. Check here to see if there's an event near you.

New York City could see its largest political protest in many years. A coalition of antiwar groups, United for Peace and Justice will stage a February 15 rally on First Avenue stretching north from 49th Street. After severe legal wrangling with the city, the organizers secured a legal permit for this rally but not for a requested march.

In what is being widely criticized as an unnecessary curb on civil liberties and the right to protest, Federal Judge Barbara Jones, citing "heightened security concerns," ruled on February 10 that the City of New York can deny United for Peace and Justice not only its request to stage a short march through Manhattan, but could refuse a permit to march anywhere in NYC on February 15. But the show will nonetheless go on. People like Desmond Tutu, Julian Bond, Danny Glover, and Patti Smith are signed on to partcipate and bus caravans have been organized nationwide.

Sign an online petition demanding that Mayor Bloomberg allow a march and redouble your efforts to get people out on the streets this Saturday. Check the UFP site for info on logistics, housing, transportation, legal advice, and how you can help promote the event in your own community.

Bloomberg Stonewalls

Regardless of the outcome of weapons inspections, the Bush Administration seems poised to soon launch an invasion of Iraq. In response, the antiwar movement is gearing up for a series of nationwide protests, highlighted by major actions planned forFebruary 15.

A coalition of antiwar groups, United for Peace and Justice, is stagingwhat is likely to be a large and spirited event in New York City on the 15th. Mayor Bloomberg's office however has been so uncooperative that event organizers were forced to file a federal lawsuit last Wednesday against the City over its refusal to issue a march permit.

Permission was requested to assemble near the United Nations, followed by a short march through Manhattan to a rally location near Central Park. The City countered that only a "stationary event," not a march, would be permitted. The legal wrangling continues but the show will go on. People like Desmond Tutu, Julian Bond, Danny Glover, and Patti Smith are already signed on to partcipate and bus caravans are being organized nationwide.

You can help by calling both Mayor Bloomberg's office and the NYPD today and politely insisting that a permit be issued.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: 212-788-9600, 212-788-3010, 212-788-3040NYC Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly: 646-610-8526

You can also help by getting people out on the streets next Saturday. Leaflets for February 15 are available for downloading in English, Spanish, Korean, French and Creole.

For those who live closer to the West Coast, there'll be another major antiwar protest on Sunday, February 16, in San Francisco.

Rice for Peace

Another antiwar action rapidly gaining supporters is the Rice for Peace program. In the 1950s, thousands of people apparently sent small bags of rice to President Eisenhower to encourage him to send food to China, then our enemy, during a famine.

Join a nationwide effort to send a similiar symbolic message of peace and positive global citizenship to President Bush by having a half cup of uncooked rice with the message "Rice for Peace--No War On Iraq" delivered to the White House.

No to Miguel Estrada

Tomorrow's Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Miguel Estrada's appointment to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the second most powerful court in the country, is the first of what should be a series of brutal showdowns over rightwing judical activists being appointed by the Bush Administration to the federal bench.

A member of the Federalist Society, a board member of the arch-conservative Center for the Community Interest, and a very partisan Republican, Estrada is widely considered a conservative ideologue who is unwilling to distinguish his personal views from what the law requires.

A diverse coalition of civil rights, women's rights, environmental, pro-choice, worker, consumer and disability rights organizations are all working to oppose Estrada's nomination. The Feminist Majority's statement and ActionAlert is particularly effective.

Urge your senators to vote no on Estrada's nomination to the DC Circuit Court. You can email your elected reps or call your Senators in their Washington, DC office by asking for them specifically at 202-224-3121. And see the Alliance for Justice's Independent Judiciary site for much more information about Estrada and other upcoming Bush Court nominees, including Charles Pickering, Jeffrey Sutton and Priscilla Owen.

Congress Meets Wall Street

Tonight's State of the Union address, like most, will be far more notable for what is not said, than what is. The true state of the union--genuine measures of the health of our democracy--will be carefully avoided.

A striking new poster produced by Public Campaign better captures the spirit of reality, showing a photo of President Bush speaking to the merged floors of Congress and the stock market--or what Public Campaign likes to call the trading floor of Congress, where politicians exchange US tax dollars for campaign contributions from wealthy special interests.

Beneath the photo are a series of thirteen charts detailing how massive corporate campaign contributions have essentially bought important arms of the government, what they're getting for their investments and what the vast majority of Americans pay in higher taxes, dirty air and water as a consequence. The poster is available now. It makes for a great gift, especially to a school or library. And check out the Nation Online's special section on electoral reform activism for ways you can get involved in the struggle for fair elections.

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