Thursday, June 23, 2005

Indymedia on Iraq

The demo really started to swing around 5:15 after we rounded the intersection of Main Street and Westport Road.
The first to arrive placed themselves in front of the Military Recruiting Station situated in the shopping center between 39th Street and Westport Road.
After unfurling a banner and grabbing signs, demonstrators were soon alerting others of their community that they were fed up with the predatory practices of the recruiters. Some signs told of desire to remove recruiters from the local neighborhood, some addressed the practice of harassing high school children while others spoke to the notion of ending the “poverty draft”. The signs garnered a host of reactions from the “one finger salute” to honking horns and peace signs.
Most motorists slowed and read the banners and signs, some with a little bewilderment on their faces, others with a knowing nod and honk and others asking what we were doing. Demonstrators had literature they were handing out that further illustrated what their concerns were and possible solutions to military recruitment and endless war.
One of the great things about having counter recruitment and anti war demonstrations in front of the recruiting station and in our own neighborhood where we are affected is that demonstrators are able to directly engage their neighbors in one on one conversation concerning issues in their own community and their own experiences with the poverty draft in particular and the recruitment efforts in general.
In one instance of irony, the recruiters via telephone contacted a demonstrator during the action asking if they were still attending school and had they considered a career in the military; many of those in attendance have direct experience with recruitment efforts.
Many pedestrians would stop by and stand and talk of their experiences with the military. Some community members have served in the military and related their experiences as veterans and some spoke to why they would never enlist.
In another instance of irony just a few store fronts down sits a vacant “Vet Center” adorned with a lone sign alerting the community to how many people have died during the most recent unprovoked war against Iraq.
Some community members offered assistance for a next demonstration and others would simply enjoy the community discourse. Organizers had spent time in the past few weeks walking through the neighborhood and riding busses handing out informational fliers and speaking with their neighbors telling of the upcoming demonstrations and what they hope to achieve.
It was fairly eventful action that had security guards and managers from the neighboring predatory lending businesses concerned that we were driving away business. They would try to bully demonstrators into leaving the sidewalk only to finally call the police in an attempt to have us removed.
The police did arrive within a few minutes with two squad cars and four officers approaching our group after circling the block twice. They asked very loudly “Who is in charge here?” and were met with a resounding “No One!” from demonstrators.
Not knowing who to address they asked if anyone would be willing to speak with them and one of the demonstrators agreed to oblige them. While others took video and pictures the police informed the lone demonstrator that no laws were being broken and that unfortunately when a call is made they have to respond.
They asked that we please do not stand directly in front of business doors and offered that they know this wasn’t taking place and please no violence. After relaying this message they seemed satisfied and then left without incident.
Upon leaving demonstrators went back to their positions and were met with security guards and managers of the predatory lending establishment who asked if we had not heard what the officers said.
Demonstrators responded that they had indeed heard what the officers said and that perhaps they should call the police again if they were confused about the outcome the first time.

The above is from Kansas Indy Media, Vladamir Aaron's "Report Back From the June 13th Kansas City Counter Recruitment Demo." Hank e-mailed to highlight it. We're going to focus on Iraq and the war for this Indy Media highlight.

Lori e-mails to note DJ Shadow's "Visiting Iraqi Trade Unionists Call for Immediate Withdrawal of US Troops" (Portland IMC):

The Iraqis arrived in Portland this morning, and spoke at a noon luncehon. These brave organizers have an important story to tell, and I encourage everyone to come tonight to hear what they have to say about union organizing, the US occupation, privatization, and their requests for solidarity. It's very powerful stuff, and this is probably the only opportunity to hear directly from Iraqi union organizers.
When asked about the US occupation, they were very clear--they think that the US occupation should end immediately.

Trevor e-mailed (from Baltimore Independent Media Center) John Duda's "Audio of Iraqi Labor Solidarity Tour in Baltimore" which allows you to listen to comments made on the Baltimore stop of the tour.

Rod notes Joey King's "Report Back on National War Tax Resisters Central Committee National Meeting" (Tennessee Indy Media):

On 7 May 2005, Nashvillians were treated to a special event. The National War Tax Resisters Central Committee (NWTRCC pronounced "nutrick") held a meeting here. This is due primarily to the efforts of Karl Meyer, a famous war tax resister who has called Nashville his home for the last 7 years or so. The modern movement grew from the resisters of World War I and today includes members of historic peace churches; pacifists, anarchists, Buddhists, and others opposed to war. Since World War II, the movement in the US has had ebbs and flows in participation, probably peaking in the Vietnam era. Various methods have been used to prevent income taxes from flowing to the US government. These include voluntary poverty and self-employment. War tax resisters can and do go to jail for their convictions every year, although the IRS is reluctant to prosecute resisters of conscience.
Today, war tax resistance is experiencing renaissance, due to the never-ending-war-on-terrorism (NEWOT). Although war tax resistance is not new or confined to the US, it is most actively practiced in the US because of the unparalleled military spending by the government. This year (2005) for example, the military budget is nearing a half trillion dollars and that does not include military pensions, military healthcare, or interest on war debt. The mantra of the war resister is, "if you work for peace; stop paying for war."
The first speaker on Saturday was Mr. Meyer who delighted the audience with stories of his resistance to war beginning in August of 1945 when the US dropped atomic bombs on Japan. Meyer’s early inspirations were M.K. Gandhi and the Quakers. Karl registered for the draft in 1959 and was granted conscientious objector (CO) status. His first act of civil disobedience landed him in jail with two famous American pacifists, Ammon Hennacy and Dorothy Day. The 20 year-old Meyer stayed up all night listening to Hennacy (a WWI conscientious objector) tell prison stories of his time with famous American radicals Eugene V. Debs and Alexander Berkman.
On that night, Meyer became a radical. He began attended meetings of the pacifist group, the Peacemakers and helped the
Catholic Worker movement (which was co- founded by Dorothy Day). In 1966, he went to Vietnam and protested the war at the American Embassy before being kicked out. Meyer was the primary force behind the "Phone Tax Rebellion" in the US. There is a 3% tax on all phones that was originally intended to fund the Spanish American War (1898) and is still in use today. Karl’s efforts have led many in the US to refuse to pay this war tax. Many of his articles have been published over the past four decades.

From Democracy Now!, we'll note:

Pentagon Launches Massive Database To Help Recruiting Efforts
The Pentagon has begun working with a private company to create a massive database of high school and college students to help identify students as young as 16 to target for military recruiting. This according to the Washington Post. The database includes an array of personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying.
The Pentagon has hired the Massachusetts-based company BeNow to run the database apparently in an effort to circumvent laws that restrict the government's right to collect or hold citizen information. The database will include data given over by schools under the No Child Left Behind Act as well as information collected from commercial data brokers.
According to the Washington Post, the system also gives the Pentagon the right -- without notifying the students -- to share the data for numerous uses outside the military, including with law enforcement, state tax authorities and Congress.
A Pentagon spokesperson defended the database saying, "This program is important because it helps bolster the effectiveness of all the services' recruiting and retention efforts."
The new database is being created at a time when the Armed Forces is struggling to meet its recruiting goals. The Army has missed its monthly recruiting goals every month so far this year. But Chris Jay Hoofnagle of EPIC -- the Electronic Privacy Information Center --criticized the system as a "audacious plan to target-market kids, as young as 16, for military solicitation." EPIC described the database as a "unprecedented foray of the government into direct marketing techniques previously only performed by the private sector."
The privacy watchdog group also criticized the program because it does not allow students to opt-out of being in the massive database although they can opt-out of being solicited for recruitment.

CounterRecruiter has more on this topic:

But little has been written about the private firm BeNOW that will be overseeing this massive database containing personal information about tens of millions of young people.
According to the
BeNOW website, the Wakefield, Massachusetts-based company works on database marketing plans with Tower Records, Saab and MetLife. A look at the company's work with Tower Records may provide a clearer idea of how the Pentagon will use this new database to help market the military to young people.
Earlier this year Tower issued a
press release touting its new relationship with BeNOW titled "Tower Records Tunes Into Customers With BeNOW":
Working with BeNOW, Tower Records will gather and consolidate customer information into a multi-channel marketing database that will allow more targeted communications and build customer relationships as part of its commitment to strengthening its image as a customer-centric company.
BeNOW`s MVP technology solution will deliver a single customer view using Tower stores and online data sources, increasing customer value while enlarging the company`s customer database.
Tower Records can then more easily tailor its direct marketing efforts, supported by advanced reporting, analytics and execution applications, and based on refined customer profiles as determined through BeNOW`s technology.
The BeNOW's ties to Tower Records also raises questions over whether the Pentagon would tap into these "customer profiles" created by BeNOW for Tower to get a better picture of potential recruits.
Will the database include info on your recent CD and DVD purchases?

Mike Burke, who runs CounterRecruiter, is also part of the Democracy Now! team.

And on the topic of the Democracy Now! team, if you missed "Milk Money: How Corporate Interests Shaped Government Health Policy for Women" today you may not be aware of this:

The ABC news program 20/20 produced an investigative report about the efforts of the formula companies to shape the government ad campaign. This is an excerpt from the program where ABC 's Investigative correspondent Brian Ross asks Acting Assistant Secretary of Health and Human services Christina Beato why the formula companies met with then-Secretary Tommy Thompson.
"MILK MONEY", excerpt of 20/20 Investigative Report.
Last night the story received a Gracie Award which recognizes exemplary programming created for women, by women and about women in all facets of electronic media.
Anne Merewood, Director of Research for breastfeeding center at the Boston Medical Center. She is involved in the breastfeeding awareness campaign for the northeast region.
Yoruba Richen, producer on Democracy Now! Before that, she worked in the investigative unit of ABC News. She was a field producer for the story Milk Money.

Mike Burke, Yoruba Richen, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez are only part of the team that provide us with the show this community so loves. The story itself is worth noting. But we'll take a moment in the last entry tonight to note Yoruba Richen's piece for 20/20 winning a Gracie Award.

Lastly, Brent sent forward two group e-mails on Iraq.

The first is from, I believe, Democratic Leader (or pelosi@democraticleader -- Nancy Pelosi):

Bringing Our Troops Home - Not a Republican Priority
On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $409 billion Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, which included $45 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Disagreement with the policies that sent our troops to Iraq, and which keeps them in danger today, in no way diminishes the respect and admiration which we have for our troops. Sadly, the level of their sacrifice has never been matched by the level of the Administration’s planning, and now the American people agree this war is not making America safer. Leader Nancy Pelosi offered an amendment that would have required the President to submit a report to Congress containing a "strategy for success" in Iraq and identifying the criteria to determine when it is appropriate to begin bringing U.S. troops home. On a nearly party line vote, Republicans refused to let the amendment even be considered. When will Republicans in Congress stop protecting the President's failed policies and start protecting American troops?

Add your voice to more than 10,000 people who have become Citizen Co-Sponsors of the Pelosi Amendment

The second is from and it's asking you to weigh in on what we should do re: Iraq. To vote, you do have to be a member so if you haven't signed up with them (and are interested in doing so) now is the perfect time.

We'll note this from the Green Party (because not all community members are Democrats, nor do they need to be):

The Downing Street Memo proves that invasion of Iraq wasn't the 'last resort' but Bush's intent all along, leading to cooked intelligence and other impeachable offenses; Greens note bipartisan and media complicity in overlooking evidence of deceit, urge public protest.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green leaders reiterated the party's July 2003 call for impeachment of Bush, and called on all Americans outraged by the Bush Administration's list of deceptions, violations of the U.S. Constitution, the disastrous Iraq occupation, and policies that have disgraced the U.S. to demand that Congress begin the impeachment process.
"The invasion and occupation of Iraq has caused the deaths of over 1,600 U.S. military personnel, as well as untold suffering and tens of thousands of civilian dead in Iraq," said David Cobb, the Green Party's 2004 candidate for President of the United States. "The Downing Street Memo confirms what we already knew -- that a conspiracy to deceive the American people led us into the war, and that this conspiracy constitutes 'high crimes and misdemeanors' according to the U.S. Constitution."
The Green Party of the United States
called for the impeachment of George W. Bush during the party's 2003 national meeting. Greens have organized and participated in numerous protests against the war since early 2003, and have called for an immediate end to the occupation, cancellation of further war spending, and removal of military recruiters from schools as U.S. troops continue to face death and injury in Iraq.
Greens praised Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) public demand for an explanation from President Bush in the wake of Downing Street Memo's publication, and questioned why so many of the mainstream U.S. media have remained silent on the content and implications of the memo.
But Greens also called many Democrats as responsible as Republicans for Iraq policy, having voted in October 2002 to transfer war power to the President, which created the scenario for White House deceit and abuse of power, and having recently voted for another $82 billion for the war.
"It was already apparent, long before the Downing Street Memo, that President Bush's case for invading Iraq was based on fraud," said Rebecca Rotzler, co-chair of the Green Party's Peace Action Committee. "All of the reasons for invasion that Mr. Bush listed in his January 28, 2003 State of the Union address -- Iraqi WMDs, collusion between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, evidence that Saddam had sought nuclear weapons materials from Africa, nuclear aluminum rods, Iraq's supposed threat to the U.S. and to other nations -- are now known to be false. The Downing Street Memo shows that the intelligence supporting an invasion was fixed, with the complicity of the Bush and Blair administrations as early as July 2002."
Green Party leaders also noted that Ahmed Chalabi, whose false testimony to U.S. intelligence officials on Iraqi WMDs formed much of the basis of the claim that Saddam Hussein was an international threat, is now serving as interim Iraqi Oil Minister, with the Bush Administration's approval; and that John Bolton, now under consideration for appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., repeatedly manipulated intelligence and lied to the U.S. media and the U.N. about Iraqi weapons materials.
"Americans should be protesting in every way possible against the continued occupation of Iraq, and for impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney," said Jake Schneider, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States. "But this has also been a bipartisan war all along, and every Democrat and Republican in Congress who has supported it despite evidence of deceit from the very beginning also deserves removal from office."
Green Party of the United States
1700 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Suite 404
Washington, DC 20009.
202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN
Fax 202-319-7193

Green Party Peace Action Committee

"The 'I' word"
By Ralph Nader and Kevin Zeese
The Boston Globe, May 31, 2005

Letter to Pres Bush Concerning the "Downing Street Minutes"
From Rep. John Conyers

"Hold Bush Accountable If He Lied About Iraq"
By Mark Dunlea (Green Party of New York State)
The Albany Times Union, July 9, 2003

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