This Memorial Day weekend, as the nation commemorates the ultimate sacrifice our country's armed forces have made in the service of liberty, speakers at the 5th National Grassroots Organizing Conference on Iraq claim the Bush administration sacrifices coalition troops through exposure to depleted uranium (DU).
"There's more than enough evidence from the Pentagon's own studies to ban DU," said Charles Sheehan-Miles, executive director of the Nuclear Power Research Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, founded by activist Dr. Helen Caldicott. "But the Pentagon loves this weapon."
Bloomington will host the 5th Annual National Grassroots Organizing Conference on Iraq on Memorial Day weekend, May 28-31, in Ballantine Hall at Indiana University. This year's theme is "From Humanitarian Disaster to Quagmire: The Failure of the 'War on Terror.'" Speakers will include Bert Sacks, whose humanitarian efforts in Iraq have put him at odds with the U.S. government.
Sacks, a retired software engineer in Seattle, read a New York Times story in March 1991 that quoted a United Nations report on the situation in Iraq. "It used the phrase, 'Iraq's been bombed to near-apocalyptic state,'" Sacks said in a recent conversation. The last paragraph says, "There will be famine and epidemic in Iraq unless massive life-supporting aid is given. Time is short."
WEST LAFAYETTE — Two dozen peacemakers from the Indiana Peace and Justice Network met here May 1 to share details about activities around the state, strengthen lines of communication between affiliates and solidify plans to show the Bush administration the bum's rush in November.
Special guest Carl Davidson, from Chicago's Peace & Justice Voters 2004, succinctly stated the dilemma facing progressive voters this fall. "No matter who wins in November, it will be a representative of U.S. imperialism. The question is, which faction?" It does make a difference who wins, he said, adding, "No matter who wins, we have to continue the struggle."
In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.
-- J. William Fulbright, U.S. Senator (1905-1995)
One year ago, 10 million peacemakers gathered in more than 660 cities in an unprecedented global expression of dissent against the Bush administration's forced march to unilateral war. In chants, speeches, poetry and song, we lifted our voices to express the truth as we knew it in our heads and hearts: that the case for combat had not been made, that diplomatic options had not been exhausted and that international law prohibited pre-emptive war.
Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons are one of the most controversial components of the United States' military arsenal. But discussion of the use of such weapons -- much less of their environmental and health impacts -- is rarely part of public discourse.
In addition to courageous public figures such as anti-nuclear activist Dr. Helen Caldicott and journalist Dan Fahey, who endeavor to break the silence, Doug Rokke is one of the nation's most outspoken critics of DU. Rokke will speak at the Monroe County Public Library on Thursday, Oct. 2, as part of a panel discussion on "The Scourge of Depleted Uranium Weapons."
Zaineb Istrabadi is the associate director of Indiana University's Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program. Having grown up in both Iraq and Indiana (where she graduated from Bloomington North High School in 1973), Istrabadi jokingly describes herself as a "Baghdadi-Hoosier." A founding member of the Muslim Peace Fellowship, Dr. Istrabadi has emerged as one of the country's leading Iraqi-American commentators, and is a frequent guest on National Public Radio as well as other media outlets.
Istrabadi will be giving an address at the Indiana Council on World Affairs Distinguished Speakers Dinner on Sept. 10 at Butler University, in the Johnson Room in Robinson Hall. Her talk begins at 7:15 p.m. Members of the ICWA can attend for $3, non-members for $4. For more information about the Indiana Council on World Affairs, call 549-4159 or check ....
Author, educator and civil rights activist Howard Zinn is perhaps best known for his book A People's History of the United States, which remains a bestseller more than 20 years after its release. A leading figure in the Vietnam War protest movement, Zinn toured campuses around the country lecturing at teach-ins -- a practice he has continued since his retirement from Boston University in 1988.
Now 80, ill health has led him to cancel speaking engagements this fall, including one scheduled for October at Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind. In honor of Zinn's service to the Peace Movement,The Bloomington Alternative offers excerpts from a July interview with Zinn conducted by Thomas P. Healy.
The following message is from Gretchen Clearwater, who is in the Middle East with the Indiana Delegation to Israel and Palestine.
It is my turn to write the daily log. Today and yesterday have been the most tense days for me that we have had thus far. We have learned what it is like to be a Palestinian. Palestinians are humiliated on a daily basis, their every movement is restricted. This is especially true at the checkpoints that welcome everyone back into their hometowns, if they can even get out of their hometowns.
The following message is from Bill Breeden, who is in the Middle East with the Indiana Delegation to Israel and Palestine.
August 11: Tonight is my night to give our daily report. It has been a busy day. We began early this morning. It is a challenge to get around this city in any timely fashion, but we were on schedule most of the day.
"The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" of weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserted during the buildup to war. Similarly, the absence of evidence of a peace movement - such as huge multi-city rallies - is not evidence of its absence.
Rumsfeld's dissembling quote regarding the presence or absence of WMD was part of the Bush Administration's ultimately successful media campaign to generate support for military action in Iraq.