A busload of card-carrying peace activists, jacked up on caffeine and shared contempt for the Bush war machine and a Democratic Congress that needs to dial 1-800-GROW-A-SPINE, rolled out of Bloomington early Oct. 27 to join several thousands more in Chicago for one of 11 regional anti-war demonstrations that took place that day.
Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (BPAC) organizers Christine Glaser and Timothy Baer led that group to the Windy City. And several other area groups and individuals met them there.
Other cities that participated included Boston, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Orlando and Seattle.
For the first 17 years of his life, Ra’ed Almickawi lived in a tent in the desert with his parents and nine brothers and sisters. And he was happy.
He awoke every morning to his mother’s fresh-baked bread. He never had to wash his salad greens, which came from the organic garden that he, his father and his brothers tended.
His mother helped him with his homework between their homemade lunch and homemade dinner. It wasn’t always comfortable sleeping in tight quarters side-by-side with his brothers, but he was never lonely, and he always had someone to look out for him.
We know by now that our troops have been fighting and dying in Iraq longer than they fought in World War II.
Might as well mention also that we’ve been fighting and dying in Iraq’s civil war as long as we did in our own Civil War (1861-65).
George W. Bush has put David Petraeus, surge-in general of the United States, out front pitching his case for making it last longer. What U.S. military officer ever had a harder mission assigned to him: trying to convince Congress and the American people that Bush is telling the truth about something he’s lied about for five years? About his reason for starting it; about “Mission Accomplished” when it was just beginning; about its costs; about its progress, etc., etc.
Bloomington resident Allison Strang got a taste of what life is like for Palestinians living in the West Bank when she tried to pass through military checkpoints to reach Nablus, a Palestinian city surrounded by Jewish settlements, in 2003.
"At the second checkpoint, (Israeli soldiers) weren't letting anyone in that particular day, for whatever reason," she said.
Strang, who was traveling as part of a six-person delegation sponsored by the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (BPAC), was riding in a minibus along with several Palestinians. One of the Palestinian passengers invited the Americans to stay in his home for the night.
"We hung out with his kids and talked to him about what his life was like," said Strang. "He lives a five-minute journey from his work, but some days he can't get to work because (the Israeli military) will close off the gates to him or make him wait for hours."
Deborah Mayer, who was fired in 2003 from her probationary teaching position at Clear Creek Elementary School for telling students that she "honked for peace" when she saw anti-war signs downtown, recently attended the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) conference in Washington, D.C.
She did not, however, attend any of the thought-provoking workshops detailed on the AFT Web site. Instead, she decided to grapple with the challenges facing educators across the United States in a slightly different way - by meeting with small groups of teachers between sessions.
Two years ago, her case was the focus of national attention, garnering the support of high-profile peace advocates such as Cindy Sheehan and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. But now, four years after her struggle for the recognition of her First Amendment rights began, Mayer is forced to engage with teachers during break time.
The AFT denied her request to speak directly to teachers attending the conference.
On April 2, a delegation of nine area residents, members of Bloomington Peace Action Coalition (BPAC) and of Bloomington Declaration of Peace, visited Indiana Ninth District U.S. Rep. Baron Hill's Bloomington office to register their objections to Hill's “yes” vote on the “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act.”
The Iraq Accountability Act (HR 1591), which originated as the $93 billion defense appropriations supplemental bill requested by the Bush Administration, was approved in the House of Representatives on March 23, on a vote of 218 to 212.
The Iraq Accountability Act appropriates nearly $100 billion more for the continued U.S. military occupation of the country of Iraq and for military operations in Afghanistan.
Since the death of her son Casey in Iraq, Cindy Sheehan has traveled the globe as a citizen diplomat and peace activist in search for justice.
"I want justice for my son," she tells audiences. "I want justice for the others who have been killed and for the troops that have been wounded physically and mentally. I want justice for Iraq, and I don't want it to happen again."
Sheehan will bring her passionate message to Indiana when she delivers the Plowshares keynote address at 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, as part of the third annual Midwest Peace and Justice Summit on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis.
Celebrated columnist Molly Ivins died on Feb.7. Dare I argue with her after her death?
In her Jan. 11 column Ivins said, "The purpose of this old-fashioned newspaper crusade to stop the war is not to make George W. Bush look like the dumbest president ever. ... How massively stupid was the entire war in Vietnam? Even at that, the challenge with this misbegotten adventure is that WE simply cannot let it continue."
The war is no mistake, as Ivins implies. Rather, it's part of a centuries-old American tradition of conquering peoples (including those on this continent) and stealing their resources so wealthy corporations and individuals could become richer. (Don't take it from me: read A People's History of the United States and Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Domination.)
This war is deliberate and systemic. It's an act of foreign policy. Starting and conducting the war has everything to do with furthering the power elite, and ending it has everything to do with exercising the power of the people.
from Deb Mayer
I wanted to share with you the latest development on my case. If you recall I was fired from my teaching job in Bloomington, Indiana, for making a statement in support of peace before the war in Iraq began.
Most recently I appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reverse the lower court's ruling stating that teacher's have no right of free speech.
I have lost the appeal with the court ignoring the issue to be decided, disregarding the facts of my case, and making assumptions that are not true. My attorney and I have petitioned for a rehearing, but I understand those are seldom granted in this court.
Pending the trial on Monday 5 February of Ehren Watada over his refusal to participate in the Iraq war, Amnesty International stated that a guilty verdict would be a violation of internationally recognized rights to conscientious objection.
"If found guilty, Amnesty International would consider Ehren Watada to be a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release", said Susan Lee, Amnesty International's Americas Programme Director.
28-year-old Army Lieutenant Ehren Watada faces a possible four year prison sentence on charges of "missing movement" — due to his refusal to deploy to Iraq in June 2006 -- and of "conduct unbecoming an officer" -- because of his public comments regarding his objections to the war in Iraq.