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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.

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.

Thirty Years of Freedom of Choice

On the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the number of US abortion providers has fallen to its lowest level in three decades, a trend many physicians ascribe to a hostile political climate, the surge of hospital mergers and a lack of enthusiasm for teaching the procedure at most medical schools.

This info was in a new survey released on the eve of today's anniversary by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. The Institute also found, in this age of legalized abortion, that 87 percent of the counties in the United States do not have a single abortion provider! And things will likely get worse with most centers of political power in the US currently occupied by anti-choice hardliners.

Fortunately, there are numerous organizations taking effective action to help preserve and expand women's right to reproductive choice. Joining one of them today would be a good way to mark the anniversary's importance. Click here for a listing of links to groups as well as select Nation articles, essays and columns, including Katha Pollitt and Jennifer Baumgardner's Open Letter About Contraception.

The Dream and Beyond

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously came out against the Vietnam War the year before he was assassinated in April, 1968. In a http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0120-03.htm "> fitting tribute from today's Los Angeles Times, David Garrow, King's Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, asks us to acknowledge what King himself would be doing almost every waking hour, were he still alive today at age 74: organizing mass demonstrations against a US invasion of Iraq.

Cities For Peace

As the troop buildup continues, the antiwar movement has gone from emerging to here. Ruth Rosen was particularly optimistic in an op-ed in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle. The surge of organizing is remarkable given that war has not yet begun, nor it is absolutely certain that it will. There are marches, teach-ins and protests being feverishly planned, including what will likely be a big one scheduled for DC this Saturday. As Esther Kaplan said in a recent Nation article, the strength of the opposition is not its unity, but its variety, as a raft of groups with different politics employ a diversity of tactics.

United For Peace has been a pivotal center of organizing since its founding late last year. An ecumenical network of coalitions, the UFP site is the best place to see the wide pantheon of upcoming antiwar protests. And organizers everywhere are invited to post info on their particular projects and events. A related campaign, Cities For Peace, was recently successful in convincing its 34th US city council to adopt a resolution against an invasion of Iraq.

A rapidly growing network working to convince civic bodies to pass antiwar resolutions, Cities For Peace is a collection of educators, activists and community, religious and business leaders, all united in their joint opposition to Bush's call for war. Local resolutions, of course, have no role in shaping Federal policy, but they are significant in underscoring the widespread opposition to US military action against Iraq. These resolutions also serve to highlight the impact of the cost that war will have on city and state budgets and critical social services. Check out CFP and see how to launch a resolution campaign in your community.

And watch this space for much more about antiwar initiatives.

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