FBI Keeps Watch on Activists

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March 27, 2006
LA Times

By Nicholas Riccardi, Times Staff Writer

“DENVER — The FBI, while waging a highly publicized war against terrorism, has spent resources gathering information on antiwar and environmental protesters and on activists who feed vegetarian meals to the homeless, the agency’s internal memos show.”

“ACLU attorneys say most violence during demonstrations is minor and is better handled by local police than federal counterterrorism agents. They say the FBI, which spied on antiwar and civil rights leaders during the 1960s, appears to be investigating activists solely for opposing the government.”

Read full article.

FREE SPEECH Demo at Entergy Nuclear on Wally Nelson’s Birthday

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Pay for a melt-down? ‘YOU DON’T GOTTA.’

1. 3/27 Mon. — FREE SPEECH Demo on Wally Nelson’s Birthday
Noon to noon at Entergy Nuclear Offices in Brattleboro??!!
Spread the word? 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 …
Don’t pay until we get a safety inspection.

2. 3/28 Three Mile Island Anniversary Walk, 10 am
Brattleboro Commons to Entergy Offices

////// FREE SPEECH DEMO //// on Wally’s Birthday //////////
Your wisdom is needed for, ‘Transcending the Nuclear Age.”
No one else will speak your the truth just as you do.
Thanks to all our Reps who are speaking up!

Make your statement.

Here’s a demo designed to suit any schedule, at Entergy Nuclear Offices on
Old Ferry Road in Brattleboro. (Directions below.) I plan to be there from
noon, Monday, March 27 to noon, Tuesday, March 28. Can you offer support,
or by claim a short shift? It may be hard to return calls tomorrow, but
we’ll be glad to get your message: 413-773-7427.

A walk to commemorate the anniversary of the Three Mile Island disaster
leaves the Brattleboro Common on Tuesday, March 28, at 10am and arrives at
Entergy at about noon.

Our 24-hour demo is designed complement Tuesday’s walk and noon demo —
If you can’t get away at 10 AM, perhaps you can come by after school or
after work. Don’t evacuate, congregate! Bring your tea, and a blanket? I’m
bringing a song book, bull horn, a big umbrella, a push cart, chocolate and
warm socks! Freedom songs most welcome.

We’ll have paper, envelopes, stamps, and petitions on hand calling for
the safety assessment so urgently needed. We’ll take time to visit and get
to know one another. We’ll also have petitions for public meetings with
emergency management agencies in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire in
a 100-mile radius of the Vernon reactor. Our Senators, Reps and Sheriffs can
help us get those meetings as soon as possible. They need to hear from us.

Most of you know that on March 5 during power increases to 105% of
design capacity, reactor operators reported excessive vibrations. Further
power increases to 120% of design capacity have been delayed. The NRC
website reports that vibration, corrosion, cracking and over-pressure are
the problems associated with power increases.

A long history of problems plague the oldest operating reactor in New
England. In 1996 managers reported they had four pumps that would not have
been able to pump coolant into the reactor, if they had received a signal to
do so during a small break loss of coolant accident. Pump pressures would
have been inadequate. This condition went undetected during routine
inspection and maintenance for 22 years.

We anticipate no objection to our demonstration, because the curbside is
a public right of way where we exercise our freedom of speech. However, you
may want to ask a friend to drop you off while they run errands, because
parking may be an issue.

Why today? March 27 is Wally Nelson’s birthday. Wally was a dear
neighbor and inspiring civil rights leader. He sought his freedom and
advocated for our freedom. His summation speaks succinctly about whether we
have to pay for killing; and just as succinctly answers whether we have to
pay for dangerously produced electricity. ‘You don’t gotta!'” We’re also
inspired by reps who are speaking up. And of course, it won’t do any good to
complain AFTER an accident!

DIRECTIONS: From US 91 take exit 3, head north on Route 5. Turn right right
at the light, (east) onto Old Ferry Road. See the Entergy offices on the
right. Perhaps a friend will drop you off and come back after errands.

Other DATES proposed for DEMONSTRATIONS:
**************************************
* Wed. April 26 – Chernobyl Day, 20th Anniversary

* Saturday, May 13 – Full Moon – Mothers’ Eve

* Sunday, June 11 – the Strawberry Moon!

*** “Don’t EVACUATE — CONGREGATE!” ****

Best regards, Sunny
Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413-773-7427

http://www.traprockpeace.org

Iraqis killed by US troops ‘on rampage’

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The Sunday Times
March 26, 22006
Hala Jabar and Tony Allen-Mills, New York

Claims of atrocities by soldiers mount

THE villagers of Abu Sifa near the Iraqi town of Balad had become used to the sound of explosions at night as American forces searched the area for suspected insurgents. But one night two weeks ago Issa Harat Khalaf heard a different sound that chilled him to the bone.

See full article at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2103695,00.html

Thanks to Phil Gasper for sending this around.

A balance sheet for America’s Iraq

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Asia Times
March 25,2006
By Sami Moubayed

“Apart from the downfall of Saddam, not a single achievement in Iraq is noteworthy. The country today is a “democracy” in civil war – a democracy where human life is being wasted, along with the dreams and security of the Iraqi people. Inasmuch as free elections are a great asset of which all oppressed people dream, they mean nothing if security is lacking.”

See full article at http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HC25Ak03.html

Thanks to Paul Amrod in Germany for suggesting this article.

Impeach! The shot heard ‘round the world

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By Kathryn Casa | Vermont Guardian

posted March 24, 2006

NEWFANE — As patriots go, Dan DeWalt looks the part. With his ponytail and winter beard, a pair of breeches and a musket would put him right into character in 1775.

But it was no act earlier this month when DeWalt fired the opening salvo of his revolution. Only this time, the shot heard ’round the world came not from a rebel in Massachusetts but from a selectman in Vermont. And rather than start a shooting war, it was meant to put a stop to one.

DeWalt, 49, is as mystified as anybody at his international star status as the author of a town meeting resolution, which Newfane voters passed 121-29, calling for the impeachment of Pres. George Bush, in part because he “used falsehoods to lead our nation to war unsupported by international law.”

Other cities and towns have passed similar measures, including San Francisco. Newfane was the first of five Vermont towns to do so — Brattleboro was expected to take it up at representative town meeting on Saturday. At least six Vermont Democratic County Committees have also voted in favor of impeachment proceedings.

See full article and photo at http://www.vermontguardian.com/local/032006/Impeach.shtml

Thanks to David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.org for pointing out this one.

Over Half Million Protest Anti-Immigrant Law in Los Angeles

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Between Half-million and One Million People Protest against Anti-Immigrant Law in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, March 25, 2006 – Over 500,000 people filled the streets of downtown Los Angeles today. City officials are saying it is the largest demonstration they have ever seen. Both the Mayor and the Chief of police attended the demonstration and voiced opposition to the proposed anti-lmmigrant law which is to be debated in the Senate next week. – Marcus

See Marcus’s incredible photos – taken from 2nd floor of building along parade route.
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151463.php

Links to more articles and photos are being posted at LA Indymedia homepage

Photos by SCHA-LA
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151318.php
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151337.php
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151356.php
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151386.php
Audio – http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151377.php
Video – http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151385.php
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151394.php
http://la.indymedia.org/news/2006/03/151396.php

I knew that LA’s Indymedia would have world class treatment of the protest – and they did.

Iraqis endure three years of death and destruction – Paying the price of U.S. empire

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Iraqis endure three years of death and destruction
Paying the price of U.S. empire
March 24, 2006

NICOLE COLSON looks at conditions in Iraq three years after the U.S.-led invasion.

THE U.S. military marked the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with an attack on the city of Samarra that was supposed to highlight the “progress” being made in the “new Iraq.” But what the offensive showed was how desperate the U.S. is for good news.

The Pentagon’s “Operation Swarmer”–touted in the media as the “largest air assault operation” since the invasion three years ago–was supposed to round up high-profile Iraqi resistance fighters, including those allegedly responsible for the bombing of a mosque that sparked days of violence in Iraq.

“We believe we achieved tactical surprise,” said Lt. Col. Edward Loomis, spokesperson for the 101st Airborne Division.

But “surprise” over who? “Three days into the offensive against suspected insurgents, there had been no clashes and no casualties among American or Iraqi troops,” reported Britain’s Independent. “Fifteen caches of weapons and explosives were said to have been found, but television footage showed little more than the kind of small arms most rural Iraqis keep to protect their homes. An American spokesman said 83 people had been detained, of whom 17 were later released.”

As news reports now make clear, Operation Swarmer was a propaganda mission designed to show that the U.S. military is making progress against the Iraqi resistance–and that the Iraqi Army is beginning to handle some of the burdens of the occupation.

Yet at the same time that Operation Swarmer was being hyped by the media as a step forward, the brutality of the U.S. occupation was on display.

While conducting a raid at night on the home of a schoolteacher in search of a suspected al-Qaeda member, U.S. forces engaged in a firefight–and called in helicopter gunships that fired on the house.

U.S. forces claim the house then collapsed, killing 11 civilians. But a report filed by Iraqi police says that those inside–including a 6-month-old infant, four children between the ages of 3 and 5 years, and a 75-year-old woman–were executed by U.S. troops.

“The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women and two men,” said the report. “Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals.”

Ibraheem Hirat Khalaf, whose brother Faiz owned the house, said he watched from nearby as U.S. helicopters fired six missiles at the house as they were leaving. According to Lt. Col. Farooq Hussain, a local police commander, autopsies of the bodies at a hospital in Tikrit revealed that “all the victims had bullet shots in the head, and all bodies were handcuffed.”

This is the reality of the U.S. occupation of Iraq–a picture of violence that doesn’t come close to the Bush administration’s p.r. hype.

Three years into the occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration continues to peddle its lies–that the country today is freer and more democratic, progress and calm are just around the corner, and the lives of ordinary Iraqis are getting better.

Bush marked the anniversary of the invasion this week with a two-minute statement to reporters that avoided mentioning the continual violence in Iraq, the deaths of well over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, and the thousands of U.S. troops killed and maimed. Bush repeatedly referred to the occupation as the “third anniversary of the beginning of the liberation of Iraq.”

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote in the Washington Post that “[t]urning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis.” And Dick Cheney, brushing aside reports of sectarian conflicts stoked by the occupation, told CBS’s Face the Nation that violence in Iraq is due to the actions of terrorists who have “reached a stage of desperation.”

That assertion was flatly contradicted by Iyad Allawi, Iraq’s former interim prime minister who was handpicked for the job by the U.S. Allawi told the BBC, “We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this isn’t civil war, then God knows what civil war is.”

The reality is that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is causing daily deprivation and humiliation for ordinary Iraqis–with the threat of civil war looming in the background.

“It’s a painful anniversary,” Baghdad resident Munthir Rasheed told the Associated Press. “We were expecting that Iraq would get better. But it is completely in reverse. Iraq has passed through three years which are the worst in its history.”

Even the Washington Post’s David Ignatius–an apologist for the occupation who last week claimed in a column that the U.S. military was finally getting it right in Iraq–admits that the country “is still a mess.” “Traveling over Baghdad by Black Hawk helicopter,” Ignatius wrote, “you can see piles of fetid trash on nearly every block and pools of raw sewage glinting in the sun. Car bombs and roadside explosions are still a daily feature of life, and the death toll remains horrific, especially for Iraqi civilians.”

In Washington, Republicans and Democrats are both calling for a withdrawal–or, more accurately, “redeployment”–of some U.S. troops. But this won’t necessarily slow the bloodshed in Iraq.

On the contrary, a phased withdrawal on Washington’s terms goes hand in hand with a plan to escalate air attacks–and according to a Knight Ridder report, Iraqis are already suffering the consequences of stepped-up bombing runs.

“Residents worry that their homes will be bombed at any time,” said Hussein Ali Jaafar, who owns a stationery shop in the town of Balad, north of Baghdad, targeted by bombs or missiles at least 27 times between October 2005 and February 2006.

According to Knight Ridder, over the past five months, U.S, forces have increased daily bombing runs and jet-missile launches by more than 50 percent–with the U.S. dropping bombs on 22 Iraqi cities from October to February.

“The residents now…hate the American occupiers who demolished their houses with bombs and killed their families,” Osama Jadaan al Dulaimi, a tribal leader in the western town of Karabilah, told Knight Ridder. “[N]ow the people of Karabilah want to join the resistance against the Americans for what they did.”

Bombing from the air rather than having troops on the ground won’t end the horror of occupation that’s being inflicted each day on Iraqis. The U.S. needs to get out of Iraq–completely and immediately.

Marines investigate war crimes

A DOZEN Marines are under investigation for war crimes stemming from a November incident in which 15 Iraqi civilians–among them, four women and five children–and eight so-called “insurgents” were killed.

Following a November 19 bomb attack in which a Marine was killed on a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol in Haditha, Marines reportedly opened fire. The casualties came during the five-hour gun battle that followed.

A day after the attack, a Marine press released announced that “15 Iraqi civilians were killed…from the blast of a roadside bomb,” and that eight insurgents were killed in the gun fight that followed.

Since then, it has come to light that the civilian deaths resulted as Marines pursued “insurgents” from house to house–with civilians inside apparently caught in the crossfire.

But justice will be hard to come by for the families of Iraqis killed by U.S. forces. The only reason the military has been forced to investigate is because a reporter raised allegations of the Marines’ wrongdoing. And even if the Marines are found to have “accidentally” killed civilians, they will likely not be punished.

After all, this isn’t the first time that U.S. forces have been accused of killing unarmed civilians in Iraq, as a Knight Ridder report recently underscored. “During the siege of the insurgent stronghold of Falluja in November 2004, a television cameraman recorded a Marine shooting and killing an unarmed Iraqi who’d been wounded during the fierce fighting,” reads the account. “The Marine was later cleared of any wrongdoing.”

***

We regularly feature lead articles from the Socialist Worker weekly newspaper, with their kind permission. The original article is located at
http://www.socialistworker.org/2006-1/581/581_05_PriceOfEmpire.shtml

See the index of this week’s issue at http://www.socialistworker.org/Storylist.shtml

ISA 4 Indian Point -Episodes Two and Three

The Independent Safety Assessment for New York Story – Episode Two- When we last wrote- US Representatives from New York had introduced legislation requiring an Independent Safety Assessment (of the size and scope of that performed at Maine Yankee in 1996) be done at the Indian point Nuclear Power Plants. Senator Hillary Clinton extracted a promise from Nils Diaz, Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that an in-depth safety review would be done- with Senator Clinton admonishing that she wanted it in writing and that it had better meet the criteria in the bill.

Yesterday (March 14) NRC representatives led by License Extension Chief Johnny Eads met with Vermont State Senators (among them, Janette White, Rod Gander, Mark MacDonald). Louis Porter of AP News was in the room. The NRC staffers told the Vermont Senators that New York would not get an ISA; that NRC Chairman Diaz had sent a letter to Sen. Clinton prescribing the same NRC team engineering inspection that was done at Vermont Yankee.A link to a sound file of the conversation between Senator Clinton and Chairman Diaz is included at the end of Senator Clinton’s Press Release- Below.

Episode Three-The Chairman’s Letter

Ray

**********

March 9, 2006

Senator Clinton Wins NRC Commitment to Conduct an In-Depth Review of Indian Point

Details of Review to be Provided In a NRC Letter to Senator Clinton

Washington, DC – At a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, Senator Clinton secured a commitment from U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Nils Diaz to conduct an independent safety review of the Indian Point power plant. Senator Clinton received the commitment after telling NRC Chairman Diaz that she supports legislation offered by Representatives Hinchey, Kelly, Lowey and Engel to require what is known as an “Independent Safety Assessment” at Indian Point.

“I am very pleased that the NRC made a commitment to me earlier today to conduct a thorough, independent review of Indian Point,” said Senator Clinton. “NRC Chairman Diaz will be following up with a letter to me detailing that commitment, and as I explained to the Chairman, I expect that it will incorporate the elements included in the legislation introduced by my House colleagues.”

At the hearing, the Senator explained her support for an independent review:

“As I have indicated, public confidence in the plant has been steadily eroded by a series of mishaps at the plant. And so, when the NRC completes its normal review processes, as happened recently, and gives the plant a clean bill of health, it doesn’t inspire public confidence,” Senator Clinton said.

“I think the NRC ought to conduct such an assessment. I, for one, would not prejudge the outcome. But going through the process can only increase public confidence if the plant is being run well, as the NRC says, and the plant therefore holds up to this extremely high level of scrutiny.”

After Chairman Diaz agreed to the Senator’s request for an independent safety review, Senator Clinton asked for his promise in writing: “I greatly appreciate the commitment of the NRC to conduct a thorough, independent safety assessment, however, I just want to be assured that it is as thorough and comprehensive and independent as we possibly can make it,” Clinton said.

Earlier this week, Representatives Hinchey (NY), Lowey (NY), Eliot Engel (NY), and Sue Kelly (NY) introduced legislation that would require the NRC to conduct an “Independent Safety Assessment” at Indian Point. The legislation would require a focused, in-depth assessment of the design, construction, maintenance, and operational safety performance of Indian Point. It also requires a comprehensive evaluation of the emergency evacuation plan for the nuclear power plant in the event of a terrorist attack or radiological accident. The details of the NRC review that Chairman Diaz announced today will be included in a letter that the NRC will send to Senator Clinton in the coming weeks. Senator Clinton reiterated her support for the legislation after the hearing.

“I am hopeful that today’s commitment will make legislation unnecessary, but I will introduce Senate legislation if the NRC’s letter does not fully address my concerns.”

The Senator’s exchange with Chairman Diaz can be listened to at:

###

Raymond Shadis
Staff Technical Advisor
New England Coalition
Post Office Box 98
Edgecomb, Maine 04556
207-882-7801
shadis@prexar.com

Activists speak out on the campus struggle for… College Not Combat

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Activists speak out on the campus struggle for…
College Not Combat
March 17, 2006

OVER THE past year, the student-led struggle against military recruiters on campus has been a high point for the antiwar movement.

Earlier this month, the anti-recruitment struggle suffered a setback when the U.S. Supreme Court–by an 8-0 decision that united justices of all political stripes–upheld the Solomon Amendment, which requires universities to open their campuses to military recruiters, even if this violates anti-discrimination policies barring employers that refuse to hire gays and lesbians.

Nevertheless, the struggle for College Not Combat has fired the determination of students across the country–from Seattle, where a student walkout on the day of Bush’s inauguration last year confronted recruiters and sent them packing; to New York City, where students and a staff member singled out for punishment because of an anti-recruitment protest won wide backing that forced administrators to back down; to San Francisco, where a ballot referendum against recruiting in public high schools and universities passed last November by a solid margin.

On March 1, nearly 200 people gathered in New York City for a panel discussion on the College Not Combat movement. Here, Socialist Worker prints excerpts from the remarks of several speakers at the New York meeting, including:

— MICHAEL HARMON, of Iraq Veterans Against the War, who served as a combat medic in Iraq

— ROXANNE HAJI-AGHAJANI, of the Hunter College chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network

— TODD CHRETIEN, the Green Party’s Senate candidate in California running against Dianne Feinstein, and author of last November’s successful College Not Combat referendum in San Francisco

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Michael Harmon
Iraq Veterans Against the War
MY NAME is Mike Harmon, and I enlisted in the army in May 2002, partly because of 9/11 and partly because at the time, I had no real direction in life. I was lied to by recruiters right off the bat when I was told that I was going to be a health care specialist. That later turned out to be a combat medic.

Shortly after I joined, there were rumors about war, and sure enough, on Martin Luther King Day 2003, we had a special formation where the colonel told us that we were going to war.

I didn’t feel like this war was warranted since the Iraqis had nothing to do with 9/11. But we got to Kuwait in April 2003 as part of the initial invasion, and it was an eye-opening experience.

Two weeks into the war, we were told to put our protective gear and chemical mask away. Now I’m not a military intelligence officer or a CIA agent, but I know we were supposed to be there to rid this country of weapons of mass destruction.

So being a New Yorker with a smart mouth, I asked the major who told us to put our gear away, “Sir, with all due respect, I thought we were here for weapons of mass destruction.” He replied, “Do what you’re told, son, and shut your mouth.” From that point on, I knew this war was just a fabrication by Bush’s regime, and that it was definitely unjust.

The event that really turned me was when one of my good friends died because of an insurgent deciding to pose as a hospital worker and drop a grenade on him and two other soldiers in my company.

At that point, I wanted this war to end immediately, but I had to cope, because I was the first line of medical defense for 350 soldiers. That was hard on me mentally, and you could tell the other soldiers were feeling the same way, especially since we were being strung along about how long the deployment was going to be.

What the media, of course, doesn’t show you is the dead and injured kids, and that will be burned in my memory forever. When soldiers in their mid 20s and early 30s are crying for their wives and mothers because they don’t want to die, that’s something that takes a tremendous toll.

When I came home, I had a lot of trouble adjusting back to civilian life, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I went to the troop clinic, and they diagnosed me with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which also affected about 60 percent of soldiers I deployed with.

The clinic decided to throw pills like Paxil at me, which made me feel even worse, and suicidal at times. I started to cope my own way with alcohol, and I hit the bottle real hard. It got to the point where I couldn’t take it any more, and I got out.

When I came home to New York, I fell deeper in the dark hole. I tried to go to the local VA. They told me they were backed up in claims, and what I was feeling was normal.

That’s when I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War, because I felt I needed to surround myself with fellow vets who had similar problems, and who also felt that Bush lied just to start this immoral war.

I felt that I was supposed to be fighting for freedom, but when I came home, all the American people’s freedoms were taken away, due to the Patriot Act and illegal NSA spying.

There was one time when I came home from Iraq from mid-term leave, and airport security made me step aside so they could wave the wand around me, and I was in full uniform. I couldn’t believe it. Here I am fighting and risking my life in Iraq so that we could keep freedom from supposed terrorist threats, and I felt like the enemy.

Bush has shredded the Constitution and killed over 2,200 good soldiers along the way, and that’s not even counting how many were injured. Now if we all stick together for this cause, we will prevail.

Roxanne Haji-Aghajani
Campus Antiwar Network

SIXTY PERCENT of the American population opposes the war in Iraq. Over half the people, the majority, want to see this war come to an end. This means that three out of five of the people you sit with on the train, or grumble with in the office, or laugh with or at in the classroom are opposed to this war.

But I would like to see a show of hands of those who know for a fact that three out of five of these people are actively engaged in bringing home our troops and ending this erroneous war. Unfortunately, most if not all of our hands remain in our laps.

With no national antiwar movement to speak of, we have to take matters into our own hands. This is, I think, where groups such as CAN come in.

The Campus Antiwar Network is a student-led grassroots network of over 50 antiwar student groups nationwide. Specifically here in New York City, we have chapters at Columbia, BMCC, NYU, Pratt, Pace, City College and Hunter College.

Central to our work has been our involvement in counter-recruitment. We believe that military recruiters who station themselves on college campuses or in poverty-stricken areas are detrimental to youth and their futures. By counter-recruiting, we can show our opposition to the war concretely, as students, who resent being lied to and refuse to be used as cannon fodder for an unjust and illegal war.

CAN activists have achieved great accomplishments fighting for students. We have distributed information about military recruiting in high schools and colleges. We have campaigned against the Solomon Amendment, which threatens universities that if they bar recruiters from their campuses, the government will eliminate the university’s public funding completely.

We organize protests that kicked recruiters off of over a dozen schools. At Seattle Central Community College, 300 students walked out of their classes, surrounded their campus recruiter, pelted him with his own literature, and drove him off of their campus, shouting, “Don’t come back.”

Another important date in CAN history, was March 9, 2005, when City College students kicked recruiters off of their campus here in New York City. But that event holds a new significance today since recruiters will be back at CCNY this March 9.

Our movement will be there on March 9 to show opposition not only to recruitment, but also to school administrators, who side with recruiters and use sometimes violent repression against their own students. Our movement will be there to show them that we will not be silenced.

We’re working to bring a message to America’s youth: College not Combat. Pick up a pencil, not a gun. Use the weapon of words, not bullets.

People don’t want to fight in this war because they don’t buy it. They don’t buy the racist dehumanization of people from the Middle East. They don’t buy that money should be used for war instead of for domestic problems, such as faulty levees.

This is why our focus on counter-recruitment goes beyond simply opposing the war. We want to focus on broader topics as well. Topics like Hurricane Katrina, and the lack of aid the victims received from their own government. Or the victims of racial prejudice or stereotypes–for example, Muslims being labeled as terrorists. We see these struggles as connected.

Campuses have traditionally been some of the places where oppositional and progressive ideas have been discussed. This is partly because of the rich history of student movements, and that explains why we see such potential for the student wing of the antiwar movement today.

By kicking recruiters off of our campuses, by standing up to repression, by condemning racism and by protesting, we can transmit our antiwar message louder and clearer to the American people, the American government and the entire world.

Of course, it takes more than just one protest to make a dent in this system, or to end a war. It’s just like the song on the radio: If you play the song only once or twice, how probable is it that a large proportion of the radio’s listeners will hear it. As you play the song more, more of an audience is attained, and thus, the song becomes more popular.

If it’s a good song, that is. And our song, the antiwar song, is a very, very good song indeed.

On March 18, the third anniversary of the war, there will be another protest in Times Square, so please come and demand troops out now, college not combat, relief not war.

Todd Chretien
Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate from California

WE’VE TALKED tonight about the number of American soldiers who have died–almost 2,300 now. When I wrote Proposition I, the College Not Combat proposition, back in March 2005, the number was 1,500. Now we’re up to 2,300. By the elections, it will be 3,000, and by next spring, it will be 4,000, unless we do something about it.

Those numbers are horrifying enough. On the Iraqi side, at least 100,000 have died. We use that number, from Johns Hopkins University, a lot. And that number was from a year ago. So we’re probably talking about 125,000 Iraqis who have died–in a country that is about one-tenth of the size of the United States.

So if you want to get an idea of the number of casualties and the amount of suffering and anger that our country is imposing on Iraq, you have to stop and think what it would mean to have tens of thousands of dead American soldiers and hundreds and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, maimed for life. That’s really the framework in which we’re all meeting here tonight.

That’s the bad news. The good news can be seen in the latest polls on George Bush. In California, the Field poll tracks presidential approval ratings, and Bush just scored 36 percent in the ratings. The interesting thing is that Bush got 36 percent, but Dick Cheney got 38 percent approval. And the only thing I can figure is that an extra 2 percent of people approve of Dick Cheney shooting Republican lawyers.

We do have some positive things on our side, which is that large chunks of the country agree with us. We have an overwhelming majority of people wanting to bring the troops home. We have the vast majority of American troops in Iraq wanting to come home, which really shouldn’t be that surprising to anybody who looks at what’s happening in Iraq. And of course, they don’t do polls every day in Iraq, but I think we can all feel comfortable that somewhere between 95 percent and 99 percent of the people of Iraq want the United States troops to come home as well.

So we have sentiment and consciousness on our side. I think that we should look at some of the work we’ve done and take some credit for that–although people just seeing the raw destruction and death that the United States is bringing to Iraq is also what is moving consciousness.

We have people in a frame of mind where they agree with us that it’s time to bring the troops home now and give Iraq to the Iraqis. That’s something that we have to be clear about, and not feel like we’re just this embattled minority that nobody agrees with. We can go out and convince the majority of people that we’re right, and George Bush and Congress are wrong. But the question is how you get them into action and create a mass movement.

I want to talk about the College Not Combat initiative in San Francisco. This referendum, Proposition I, said that we want all military recruiters expelled from public high schools and colleges. The language also said to bring the troops home now, Iraq for Iraqis, against the No Child Left Behind Act, which forces recruiters into the schools, and against the Solomon Amendment.

So it wasn’t just a one-liner about military recruiters. It was a policy statement, which is now the official policy of San Francisco. The reason we got the idea for Proposition I was that we were inspired by Seattle Central Community College. We were inspired by City College of New York and Kent State and San Francisco State and UC-Santa Cruz–all these campuses, as well as high schools, that were having protests.

And one of the things we recognized was that students would go to a protest, and you feel like you’ve kicked them off for the day. But then, what happened in many cases is that the administrations came down on the students. These liberal administrations speak out of one side of their mouths and say that the war is terrible, and our budgets are being cut because of the Pentagon budget. But the students who are protesting the military recruiters: they’re the problem, and we’re going to expel them and threaten their student organizations.

So one of the motivations for the College Not Combat proposition in San Francisco was to show the college and high school administrations that the vast majority of people in our cities agree with the students and don’t want the recruiters on our campuses. And we won that vote last November with a margin of 60 percent.

Everybody here who is an activist knows that there’s easy, and then there’s easy. To get College Not Combat on the ballot, we had to collect 15,000 signatures in about seven weeks. On the one hand, it was easy–people signed readily. My estimate is that about 80 people you asked would immediately sign up, so it gives you an idea of consciousness.

On the other hand, getting 15,000 signatures in seven weeks isn’t so easy. It takes a lot of time, dedication and effort. And we found that same gap that we’re trying to deal with now–the gap between the soldiers and family members and students and teachers and the general community that’s against the war, and then the number of people who feel like their participation in the movement actually makes a difference.

So we had relatively small numbers of people talking to tens of thousands of people. And I think that what we have to figure out as an antiwar movement is how bridge that gap. We all have to stay in the hardcore. But we have to expand that core.

I want to talk for a few minutes about some of the things I think we have to overcome in order to expand that core of the antiwar movement that is consistently active–so that we can reach not just tens of thousands, but millions of people.

The first point is this: We’re up against an extremely well-organized machine. People who have kicked the recruiters off their campuses know that, generally speaking, they come back. You feel like we won, and then, six months or two months or a month later, they come back–or you’re being prosecuted by your administration.

People often think that a temporary victory is a lasting victory. And it’s frustrating that you have to win that victory over and over again. But that’s the reality of all social change. The first time that somebody said we should get rid of slavery, it wasn’t gotten rid of. It took hundreds of years of struggle, on the part of slaves themselves as well as the abolitionist movement. To get industrial unions, it took decades of defeated strikes before we had victorious strikes.

So the first thing to get over is that we can easily end the war in Iraq. We are up against a government that fully intends to continue the occupation.

Everybody knows the name John Murtha–he’s the Democratic congressman who put forward a position in favor of redeployment from Iraq. In a way, it’s a good sign of the times–that some people in the Democratic Party, like Murtha who’s a hawk and totally supported the war, and loved every war he ever saw until the United States started losing this one, are calling for strategic redeployment.

But why is he calling for redeployment? He understands that this war is becoming a political problem, and he’s trying to figure out how to position the Democratic Party to take advantage of the 60 percent of people who are against the war now.

I think it’s good that he brought up opposition, because it now allows people to discuss it. But on the other hand, I think that we have to have an honest discussion about whether our government and either of our two parties intend to withdraw our troops from Iraq easily and quickly.

I think that we should go back to the Vietnam War to understand what the people who rule us are capable of. Some 58,000 American soldiers died in that war, and 2 million Vietnamese. So if anybody here thinks that our government is getting squeamish or having moral problems with 2,300 dead Americans and 100,000 dead Iraqis, then you have to get that out of your mind.

This government does not care how many people die. And there is oil in Iraq–a lot of oil in Iraq. There wasn’t oil in Vietnam, which means that eventually the American government could withdraw from Vietnam, and it was a blow to its prestige, but it didn’t hand over the second biggest oil reserves in the world to a force that was politically hostile to it.

So the idea that we’re about to leave–that there’s going to be a phased troop withdrawal running up to the November 6 elections–is an illusion and a political game being played by some forces within the Democratic Party to try to get your votes.

So the question is how do we put together a movement of soldiers willing to resist, of people in the streets here, and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iraq who don’t want the American presence. That’s a big task, but we have to begin by understanding what we’re up against. We’re up against a military and political machine that intends to keep its hands tightly on sources of oil, and it’s willing to spill your blood and certainly the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to keep them there.

The other reality is the majority of people being with us. We want to get out, and the government wants to stay in. That’s going to be a conflict, and so we have to figure out how to strengthen our side against their side.

This is where I want to talk about some of the weaknesses of our side–especially the importance of challenging the racism against Muslim people and Arab people being whipped up.

The reason that people are protesting all around the world against cartoons of the prophet Muhammad is not because of some Danish cartoonist. The reason people are protesting all around the world is because the military forces of our country are occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you want to understand what fuels the anger about the anti-Muslim cartoons, it isn’t because Islam has some special phobia against cartoons. It is because we are killing tens of thousands of people, and we are occupying their countries, and we are funding Israel to the tune of billions of dollars a year to continue the occupations of Palestine.

Then there’s this brouhaha about the company from Dubai taking over U.S. ports. Diane Feinstein and Hillary Clinton are arm in arm in their outrage that foreigners are taking over the ports of America. Then they did a little homework, and it turns out that almost every port in America is already run by a foreign company.

I was in Baltimore and got to thinking about the fact that the company that the Dubai company was replacing is British-owned, and I thought: What happened in Baltimore? What did the British do to Baltimore? The British bombarded Baltimore and set it on fire in the War of 1812, and that’s why we have the national anthem. Francis Scott Key was on a British frigate that was bombing Baltimore, when he wrote about the rocket’s red glare.

So we are protesting the fact that a British company that’s been running our ports all along is being replaced by an Arab company. Why does anybody care? Because of racism against Arab and Muslim people. That’s what the politicians are trying to whip up, and we have to call it like we see it and not give an inch.

Of course, global corporations are generally speaking evil, and we should protest them all the time, but we should start with the British corporations that have a much bigger say in the shipping industry in terms of breaking dockworkers’ strikes, before we worry about corporations from Dubai, which are certainly not exactly world-dominating.

This is a dangerous thing that’s going on. In Irvine, Calif., there’s a big university where the Republican Club had a meeting of 200 students in which they displayed the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. They were basically making fun of Islam. They brought in a speaker who said that Islam is a terrorist religion.

This scapegoating and this campaign against Arab and Muslim people is a wedge being used by our government to weaken the antiwar movement. We in the antiwar movement have to absolutely reject it, and stand arm in arm against the attacks on Islam and Arab and Muslim people if we’re going to have an antiwar movement that is worth anything at all.

When we talk about the antiwar movement, our job can’t be to simply replace one person in the White House with another person. Because if you ask the question whether Bill Clinton is a worse president than George Bush Jr. or his father, from the point of view of an Iraqi child, it’s a hard question to answer. Bill Clinton killed a million Iraqis, and George Bush is on his way to killing a million Iraqis. From the point of view of Iraqi children, who is in the White House is not a very relevant question.

So our movement can’t be simply about replacing one politician with another. Our movement has to have clear principles, demanding that our troops come home now, and Iraq for the Iraqis. We do not subordinate our political demands and our political movement to the short-term interest of one party or another.

I want to end by talking about Diane Feinstein, who I’m running against in California. She supported the war on Iraq, she voted for it, and she continues to vote for all the funding. She voted for the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, and she’s voting for it again. She voted for No Child Left Behind, and she’s an ardent supporter of the death penalty. There’s a whole list that I could go on about.

One of the things that I think explains most clearly why we need a movement which is independent of these two mainstream parties is what just happened to Cindy Sheehan. Cindy Sheehan was considering running in the Democratic primary for Senate against Dianne Feinstein.

Now you would think that the antiwar Democratic Party politicians would say, thank god Cindy, the most famous antiwar person in the country, is going to run against Dianne Feinstein, who is very unpopular in California.

That wasn’t the reaction. Barbara Boxer, the supposed liberal Democrat from California had a press conference–in fact, a conference call with reporters, because she didn’t want be filmed saying that Cindy Sheehan will be hurt if she runs against Dianne Feinstein. That was a threat, in my opinion, against Cindy Sheen and all the work that she has done. Then, the local Bay Area congressional liberal Democrats went to work on her and convinced her not to run.

I respect Cindy’s decision not to run. She feels like she can do a lot of good in other places in the antiwar movement, and I think we should all respect her tremendous work. But you have to ask yourself what type of a political party that claims to be antiwar doesn’t want Cindy Sheehan as its candidate. And you have to ask yourself why the priorities of the Democratic leadership are about defending Dianne Feinstein over helping the antiwar movement and talking about Cindy Sheehan being a senator.

This isn’t all about the elections. We need a movement to get back in the streets. We have to be loud and proud and out there.

But we also have to have a political movement that takes our demands into the elections. They bring their elections into our movement. They try to pull us off the streets and say you should settle for less. We need a political movement that can go right into their elections and say that we shouldn’t have to be fighting our political representatives. Our political representatives should be helping lead the movement–not standing above them and telling them what to do, but an organic part of those political movements.

I’ll end by saying that we have tremendous opportunities. If we simply switched the federal education budget, which is $70 billion a year, with the $120 billion a year that we’re using specifically to occupy Iraq, the difference of that $50 billion means that we could hire 750,000 public school teachers.

We could flood our communities with unionized, well-paid teachers. We could give college students and kids from those communities a chance to have a good job and help their peers. We could flood our communities with education, by simply taking 5 percent of the Pentagon budget away from them.

That’s the priorities that we have to stand for as a movement. I’m not going to stand here and tell you that it’s going to be easy. We have a hell of a fight ahead of us. But it’s the only possible direction to go.

***

We regularly feature lead articles from the Socialist Worker weekly newspaper, with their kind permission. The original article is located at
http://www.socialistworker.org/2006-1/580/580_06_CollegeNotCombat.shtml

See the index of this week’s issue at http://www.socialistworker.org/Storylist.shtml

NEW YORK NUCLEAR PLANTS TO GET INDEPENDENT SAFETY ASSESSMENT

NEW YORK NUCLEAR PLANTS TO GET INDEPENDENT SAFETY ASSESSMENT
Date: March 11, 2006 1:25:03 AM EST

New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution
VT . NH . ME . MA . RI . CT . NY –
POST OFFICE BOX 545, BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT 05302

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 10, 2006————————————–Contact: Raymond Shadis – 207-882-7801

OFFICE of STAFF TECHNICAL ADVISOR – These views are those of the Staff Tech. Advisor and Have Not Been Cleared with the Coalition; They may not represent the views of the coalition.

NEW YORK NUCLEAR PLANTS TO GET INDEPENDENT SAFETY ASSESSMENT THANKS TO CONGRESSMAN’S ADVOCACY
“VERMONT GETS RINKY-DINK,” SAYS COALITION ADVISOR

New England Coalition today sent a letter to Vermont’s Congressional Team and Governor Advising that, under the duress of legislation proposed by US Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and backed by Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) , US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Nils J,. Diaz has agreed that his agency will perform an extraordinary safety assessment of the Indian Point Power Stations(2) in Westchester County, NY. Hinchey’s bill specifically calls for an “ Independent Safety Assessment”.
The rigorous diagnostic evaluation of plant systems and operations, as it was performed following a flawed NRC approval of a 1989 Maine Yankee 10% power uprate, was first recommended for the Vermont Yankee Plant by New England Coalition Staff Technical Advisor for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant in hearings before the Vermont Public Service Board on the sale of Vermont Yankee to Entergy Corporation in 2002. Shadis, who had also been named to a Federal Advisory Committees Act Panel (requiring expertise in the subject area) to review NRC’s new Reactor Oversight Process, was then admitted for expert testimony by the Vermont Public Service Board.
These days, Shadis (though not an attorney) is representing New England Coalition before the US NRC and the Vermont PSB and ANR. Shadis was instrumental in securing the nation’s first convening of an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to review Vermont Yankee’s extended power uprate. Though safety issues admitted by the ASLB remain to be adjudicated, the NRC’s Staff has nonetheless issued permission for Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee to begin ramping up top 120 % of original licensed thermal power in the 35 year old reactor.

“ We can’t for the life of us understand, “ Shadis said, “ Why some Vermont elected official refuse to demand the same degree of assurance and protection as that demanded by elected officials of Maine and New York. I’m sure they’ll have some smarmy excuse, but in the end…really…history will judge.’’

END
Letter to Vermont Lead Officials and Westchester, NY News Article Attached.

New England Coalition
VT . NH . ME . MA . RI . CT . NY –
POST OFFICE BOX 545, BRATTLEBORO, VERMONT o5302
on Nuclear Pollution

March 10, 2006

Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Bldg
(at Constitution and Delaware)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4242

P.O. Box 933
87 State Street, Room 338
Montpelier, VT 05602
__________________________________

Representative Bernard (Bernie) Sanders
Washington, DC
2233 Rayburn H.O.B., Washington DC 20515
Fax – 202-225-6790

1 Church St. 2nd Floor, Burlington, VT 05401
Fax – 802-860-6370
_____________________________________

Senator James (Jim) Jeffords
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

453 Stone Cutters Way
Suite 1
Montpelier, VT 05602
_____________________________________

Governor James (Jim) Douglas
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609-0101
Fax: 802 828-3339
_______________________________________
Re: Advocacy for Independent Safety Assessment at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants

H.R.4891
Title: To require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct an Independent Safety Assessment of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.
Sponsor: Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] (introduced 3/7/2006) Cosponsors (4)
Latest Major Action: 3/7/2006 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Gentlemen,

As you are aware, more than 8300 area people signed petitions calling for an in-depth Independent Safety Assessment. They were seeking the same level of assurance gained for the people living in the vicinity of Maine Yankee Nuclear Power Station through the advocacy of their Governor in 1996.

As you may also be aware, the Maine Yankee Independent Safety Assessment followed upon revelations that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission had failed to confirm computer code applications regarding emergency core cooling and had thus granted Maine Yankee’s 1989 10% thermal power uprate with out adequate NRC oversight. That situation is analogous to the present circumstances at Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee; save that Maine Yankee was a 24-year-old reactor whereas Vermont Yankee has been in operation 35 years. For the initial 24 years of operation the two reactors shared the same nuclear engineering source, Yankee Nuclear Services Division, extinct after the scandal but for those sections purchased by Duke Engineering or incorporated at Vermont Yankee.

In Vermont and contiguous areas of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, more than a score of governmental bodies, including municipal and regional bodies; including the legislatures of New Hampshire and Vermont (in particular the Vermont senate) joined and supported their citizenry in the call for an extraordinary inspection and assessment (on the order, scale, and scope of that performed for Maine people at Maine Yankee) to be performed at Vermont Yankee as a prerequisite to uprate. U.S. Representative John Olver of Massachusetts, sensitive to the concerns and well being of his constituents, wrote to the NRC asking that an ISA be performed.

Now, while Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee begins experimental ascension power testing on its way to 120% of original licensed thermal power, without benefit of extraordinary on-site diagnostic physical or systemic examination, elected public servants of New York have advocated and won for their constituents the assurance of an extraordinary inspection, an “Independent Safety Assessment, “ like that done for the people of Maine.