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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.

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.

War is Not Inevitable

Regardless of the outcome of weapons inspections, the Bush Administration seems poised to soon launch an invasion of Iraq. Join Tony Kushner, http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/bio.mhtml?id=22 "> Katha Pollitt , Janeane Garofalo, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Edward Said and many others in endorsing the revitalized Campaign for Peace & Democracy's call for a new, democratic foreign policy that opposes both Saddam Hussein and a US invasion of Iraq. And watch this space for much more about upcoming antiwar plans.

Death Penalty Talking Points

While the death penalty is legal in most of the US, executions are increasingly taking place only in the South, according to the end-of-the-year report from the Death Penalty Information Center. In 2002, 86 percent of the nation's 71 executions took place in the South. Texas led the way as usual with 33 killings, and thereby "accounted for three times as many as the total in the West, Midwest and Northeast states combined, "the group said. See The Nation's http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030106&s=death "> Death Penalty Talking Points for numerous ways you can help register your voice against capital punishment in this country, including Death Row Roll Call , which makes it easy to blast off informed letters of protest on behalf of inmates scheduled to be executed each month.

Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Only three days left before Christmas but there's still more than enough time to finish your shopping. Here are a few ideas for the activists on your gift list:

Global Exchange offers a fair-trade marketplace with free overnight shipping until 5:00pm tomorrow. Buy dark roast http://store.globalexchange.org/cubacoffee.html ">Cuban coffee; a http://store.globalexchange.org/gbsp.html ">Gourmet Snacker's Paradise Basket featuring Tibetan Nettle Salsa and Honduran cashews; http://store.globalexchange.org/jewelry.html ">Guatemalan jewelry, http://store.globalexchange.org/clothing.html ">Indian clothing or http://store.globalexchange.org/cocoacamino.html ">Cocoa Camino chocolate produced by small family farmers who own and operate organic cocoa co-operatives in the Dominican Republic and Paraguay

The GAS-CD, with liner notes by Naomi Klein, is an eclectic collection of music featuring Gil Scott-Heron, the Barenaked Ladies, Michael Franti, the Tragically Hip, Jello Biafra, Bruce Cockburn, Sarah Harmer and many others. A fundraising project launched to support the movement against corporate globalization, all US proceeds are being donated to a worthy group of recipients, including The Nation.

Naomi Klein's new collection of essays, http://www.fencesfund.org/book.shtml ">Fences and Windows, bringing together two years of eyewitness commentary written at globalization demonstrations and economic summits around the world, should sit particularly well with the young activists on your list. Plus, royalties are being donated to The Fences Fund, a new non-profit organization that provides financial support to grassroots activists resisting privatization around the world.

Part coffee-table book, part protest chronicle http://www.centerlanepress.com/book.html ">Protest In The Land of Plenty is a unique compilation of 222 often striking photographs taken at more than forty events in the US over the last few years with a strong emphasis on the globalization protests.

http://www.sweatx.net/ ">Sweat-X offers great gifts, especially for those who care where their clothes come from. All Sweat-X clothing is made in Los Angeles by teamX inc., an employee owned, and unionized garment factory, which is committed to paying a fair wage to its entire work-force. Sweat-X believes that garment workers do not have to be exploited in order to operate a financially successful apparel factory. Help prove them right by purchasing from them today.

The "Emperor Dubya, world's biggest terrorist," T-shirt is currently the 17th biggest seller out of thousands of shirts available at http://www.t-shirtcountdown.com/t-shirts/politics.html ">T-ShirtCountdown.com. Also check out http://altahemp.com/political.html ">ShirtMagic, a more radical clothing company, specializing in cutting-edge political content, which produces all its apparel with hemp and organic cotton.

And, of course, a https://ssl.thenation.com/gift.mhtml ">gift subscription to The Nation is always a good idea. Recent releases by http://www.nationbooks.org/ ">NationBooks like Dilip Hiro's Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm and Mike Gray's Busted also offer numerous gift possibilities.

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