It is now long past time for our soldiers to come home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, it is time for our tax dollars to come home from Iraq and Afghanistan so that these tax dollars can be cut from the budget, instead of cutting vital programs that benefit the neediest among us.
When the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, the Coalition for Peace and Justice vowed to continue to hold peace vigils until all our troops were home. So it is in that light that the Coalition for Peace and Justice will join with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore and the Atlantic City Area Friends Meeting to hold its annual peace vigil honoring the New Jersey soldiers who lost their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 11:30 a.m. to noon Sunday, March 20 at the UUCSJS Center, 75 S. Pomona Road, Galloway Township, across from the Stockton College dorms.
"We will read the name of each fallen soldier while placing an individual flower in a vase,” said Jesse Connor, vice chairwoman of the UUCSJS Social Justice Committee. “We'll also share a poem and statement in support of peace and diplomacy, and the congregation's choir will lead us in song."
The vigil will be held outside, weather permitting.
Jack Healy and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) offer, "Military analysts and some politicians in both countries argue that a complete withdrawal could threaten Iraq’s tenuous stability and squander the costs paid by the United States, both in the deaths of thousands of service members and in the billions of dollars spent. A withdrawal has also amplified concerns about whether the State Department would be able to take on critical tasks now handled by the military, like responding to rocket attacks on diplomatic posts and tamping down tensions in the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk." We're noting that. We're ignoring (for now) other aspects of the report or 'report.' I don't have time to fact check that damn article and it's a real shame that there are no editors at the New York Times. I'm seeing five factual errors -- just glancing at it -- and I'll pick one of the five to explore in today's snapshot. On the plus, the New York Times did find the topic of Iraq.
Meanwhile Kimberly Hefling (AP) notes that the unemployment rate last year for young veterans (18 to 24 y.o.) of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars was 20.9&. Meanwhile the military has seen an alarming rise in the rate of suicide. Joan Galler (Trentonian) reports that US House Rep Rush Holt announced yesterday he was re-introducing the suicide prevention act which is named The Sgt. Coleman S. Bean Reserve Component Suicide Prevention Act named after the late Sgt Bean whose mother Linda Bean stood with Holt at yesterday's news conference. Gene Raz (Gannet News Service) quotes Linda Coleman explaining:
This legislation seeks to build a bigger safety net for men and women who already have given this country the best they have. It requires that we extend a caring hand; that we reach out instead of waiting for someone in crisis to pick up the phone. It emphasizes the value of peer-to-peer counseling, recognized by the Defense Department's August 2010 report on suicide prevention. Finally, it requires an accounting of deaths by suicide among members of the Individual Ready Reserve and individual augmentees.
Tom Philpott (Colorado Springs Gazette) adds, "Senior Democrats and Republicans on the veterans affairs committees have joined hands to scold the Department of Veterans Affairs over missed deadlines and restrictive language drafted for implementing new benefits for caregivers of severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans."
March 19 is the 8th anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq today remains occupied by 50,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of foreign mercenaries.
The war in Afghanistan is raging. The U.S. is invading and bombing Pakistan. The U.S. is financing endless atrocities against the people of Palestine, relentlessly threatening Iran and bringing Korea to the brink of a new war.
While the United States will spend $1 trillion for war, occupation and weapons in 2011, 30 million people in the United States remain unemployed or severely underemployed, and cuts in education, housing and healthcare are imposing a huge toll on the people.
Actions of civil resistance are spreading.
On Dec. 16, 2010, a veterans-led civil resistance at the White House played an important role in bringing the anti-war movement from protest to resistance. Enduring hours of heavy snow, 131 veterans and other anti-war activists lined the White House fence and were arrested. Some of those arrested will be going to trial, which will be scheduled soon in Washington, D.C.
Saturday, March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, will be an international day of action against the war machine.
Protest and resistance actions will take place in cities and towns across the United States. Scores of organizations are coming together. Demonstrations are scheduled for San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and more.
The following community sites -- plus Military Families Speak Out, Jane Fonda, Antiwar.com, IVAW, War News Radio and NYT's war blog -- updated last night and this morning:
Rabbi Sheldon Lewis joined Members of the Progressive Jewish Alliance, the Jeremiah Fellowship, Mexican supermarket (or mercado) workers and union organizers protest the firing of 300 workers by the Mexican market chain, Mi Pueblo. They sang and protested inside an Oakland store, and then picketed outside it.
An estimated 10,000 mercado workers work in the Bay Area and most are recent immigrants from Latin America and Asia. Workers lack proper meal and rest breaks, earn poverty wages, and often endure abuse. Benefits such as paid vacations and holidays, medical coverage, and pension plans are practically nonexistent. Overtime and double-time pay violations are common.
Mercado workers are organizing the Mercado Workers Association to take action to improve work conditions.
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