December 13, 2009

Hunger, homelessness and pestilence stalk the land. We are not talking here about Afghanistan, the Gaza Strip, Iraq or Pakistan. The territory in question is distant from the occupied, war-ravaged regions of the world where cruise missiles and ordnance have turned once proud cities into rubble and devastated the economic infrastructure of nations and where the wretched of the earth, the living dead, the maimed or injured survivors of aerial bombardment and ground battles -- orphans, bereaved parents, wives, husbands and other victims of violence -- crowd in their millions or are herded into refugee camps.

This country situated thousands of miles from the theater of war in West, Central and South Asia is none other the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the world.

December 13, 2009

In a week marked by a series of contradictions that could make your head spin, Barack Obama accepted the Noble Peace Prize by channeling none other than George W. Bush. Not only did Obama repeat the Bush-era mantra that al-Qaida is evil incarnate, he snubbed the Norwegian royal family with Bush-like insolence.

And in a move that would make Karl Rove blush, the Nobel Peace Prize winner refused to attend a "Save the Children" concert. According to a story in the Christian Science Monitor, a cardboard Obama stood in for the president at the charity event. Add another item to this week's WTF list.

When Obama was named this year's Peace Prize recipient, conventional wisdom had it that the Nobel Committee selected Obama for one reason and one reason only: he's not George W. Bush. An important distinction to be sure, but hardly prize worthy. Or is it?

November 15, 2009

This month the U.N. General Assembly is debating the "Goldstone Report," authored by the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

The report calls for both Hamas and Israel to conduct thorough, independent investigations of possible war crimes committed during Israel’s 22-day siege of Gaza, called “Operation Cast Lead,” or face possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court in six months.

According to Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the report is “a crucial mechanism for ensuring that all parties are held accountable for war crimes against civilians.”

November 1, 2009

More than two dozen citizens gathered in front of the IU Auditorium on Oct. 27 to "Walk to Support Palestine." The walk was organized by the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights Foundation.

After mingling and discussing the events that led them to participate, citizens walked behind a banner that read "Freedom and Equality for Palestine" through campus to the Sample Gates and down Kirkwood to the Square. There was no shouting, no slogans.

Marcher Kadhim Shaaban said it is a moral imperative for every citizen to support civil rights for everyone, especially for the sufferings of the Palestinians. "It is also essential for the United States interests in the Middle East and Islamic World that we work hard to aid the Palestinians who are suffering and give them an independent state," he added. "This is an issue that has both moral and strategic importance."

October 18, 2009

An Oct. 7 e-mail alert from the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition's Timothy Baer began, "Today marks a full eight years of U.S. war and military occupation in Afghanistan." It ended with a call to action: "Activists and residents of South-central Indiana will gather at the Monroe County Courthouse Square at 5 p.m. on Wednesday to express solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, calling for Peace for Afghanistan! and an end to the U.S. military occupation there."

By 5:10, about 15 people stood with anti-war signs. There was pleasant conversation among the protesters, and each was happy to explain why they came.

"I'm here because the war in Afghanistan is doomed to fail," said Michael Gasser. "I'm here today because it is the eighth anniversary."

October 18, 2009

According to Gen. Barry McCaffrey, "We can't shoot our way out of Afghanistan." Yet last week marked the eighth anniversary of the Afghanistan War. And President Barack Obama and the military establishment are discussing plans for escalation.

Against this backdrop, the "Real War" film series, sponsored by the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, will present the Bloomington premiere of Rethink Afghanistan. This documentary film was released this month and directed by Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Iraq for Sale).

The screening will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at the Monroe County Public Library Auditorium. It's part of the "Real War" film series, which takes place on the third Wednesday of each month. Attendance is free.

September 6, 2009

"The Real War," a documentary film series about the current military occupations, debuts in Bloomington with the screening of Body of War on at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, in the Monroe County Public Library Auditorium.

Bluntly and intimately, Body of War scrutinizes the day-to-day life of a disabled veteran, Tomas Young, 25 years old, who was shot in Iraq, struggles to survive as a paraplegic and speaks out publicly against the war. The camera follows Young closely over a period of months, when he passes some important milestones in his life.

Directed in 2008 by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue, Body of War won the National Board of Review's Best Documentary Award.

May 3, 2009

On April 29, in a packed Monroe County Library meeting room, Veterans for Peace President Mike Ferner gave a lecture titled "Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan."

Ferner, who has been to Iraq twice, once before the 2003 U.S. invasion and once afterward, said, "I am basing much of my statements on the 'Beyond Vietnam' speech which Martin Luther King gave at the Riverside Church in April 1967. It is a sad commentary on our times that much of what King spoke is still true today."

Ferner, who lives in Toledo, was brought to Bloomington by the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (BPAC), the Bloomington branch of the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom and peace activist and Bloomington Alternative contributor Linda Greene.

April 19, 2009

Mike Ferner, president of Veterans for Peace (VFP), will speak in Bloomington on April 29, at 7 p.m. in room 2B of the Monroe County Public Library.

Ferner, who served as a Navy Hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War, took care of hundreds of wounded soldiers and was discharged as a conscientious objector. His arrests for "disturbing the war" include disrupting a session of Congress.

Founded in 1985, VFP is a national organization with headquarters in St. Louis and chapters and at-large members around the country. The organization includes women and men veterans of all eras and duty stations, from the Spanish Civil War to the Iraq war.

April 5, 2009

To activists accustomed to participating in peace marches involving hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., the March 21 march on the Pentagon, which commemorated the sixth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, was disappointing: no more than 10,000 protesters participated in the rally and march.

According to Michael T. McPhearson, executive director of Veterans for Peace and co-chair of United for Peace and Justice, this demonstration was critical in guiding the Obama administration from the ground up.

"We must confront [the power brokers and financiers] at their seat of power," McPhearson wrote in an e-mailed letter. "President Obama must know that we hold him accountable for his promise to bring the troops home from Iraq. He is now the Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces. Their use is up to his discretion."

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