Thursday, April 14, 2005

Urbana-Champaign, IL Saturday April 16th Prospect for Peace/AWARE demonstration;

Troy e-mails to note Ricky Baldwin's "Anti-War 'Main Event' in downtown Champaign" from Urbana-Champaign IMC. Besides noting an event for this Saturday, Baldwin also does a great job establishing where we are and how we got there:

After protesting US imperialism on North Prospect for the past three years, AWARE is trying out a new venue in downtown Champaign this Saturday April 16 from 2-4 pm. (Champaign)

The new facilities at One Main Street are not even full of shops yet and the protests are already starting out on the sidewalk, brought to you by the organizers of "Prospect for Peace".

On Saturday April 16 from 2-4 pm members and supporters of the Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort (AWARE) will gather with signs and leaflets to express their opposition to US war and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and any future "preventive" wars.

The group has been demonstrating on North Prospect near Marketview in Champaign for over three years, since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, because they feared the US government would response inappropriately.

Yet little did they know how right they were.

Within weeks of the attacks, Congress passed a comprehensive revision of civil liberties under the euphemistic title "USA PATRIOT Act", leading to an ongoing national outcry. Last month the Montana State legislature passed a resolution denouncing the Act, joining a handful of other states and dozens of US cities including Urbana.

Soon thereafter the Bush Administration embarked on a "war on terrorism" (apparently a euphemism for a kind of international campaign of intimidation, the express purpose of which was to "shock and awe" -- or, terrorize -- US enemies. The first attack came in Afghanistan, where the purported planners of the Sept. 11 attacks had been hiding. The government there had had the nerve to ask for evidence before extraditing any suspects.

"We don't need evidence," was the Presidential reply. "We already know they're guilty."

Then in Iraq, where the US finally lost the majority world support it had enjoyed little over a year before, as millions of angry protesters now took to the same streets that US supporters had recently walked.

The Bush Administration declared that the Iraqi government still harbored "weapons of mass destruction" even after years of UN weapons inspections.

Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell even made a dramatic speech before the UN, in which he promised to reveal evidence of the weapons, as well as the infamous connections to al-Qaida.

The evidence turned out to be an "artist's rendition" of alleged mobile weapons factories and recordings of unidentifiable men speaking Arabic -- along with Mr. Powell's assurances, of course.

No WMDs were ever found, apart from a few that had been sealed earlier by UN inspectors -- some of which subsequently disappeared during or after the US invasion. Likewise the much-touted connections to al-Qaida, later shown to be built on shifting sands as well, except that since the invasion and overthrow of the Iraqi government sympathy for and connections to a wide variety of terrorist factions has blossomed in Iraq.

The US Administration also threatened numerous nations along the way, including Somalia, Syria and Iran, and famously warned, "Either you’re with us or you're with the terrorists."

Now US troops are still mired in Afghanistan and Iraq, hopelessly surrounded by homegrown resistance as well as imported Islamist fighters, defending foreign-imposed governments and US-based profiteers, with no end in sight.

Protesters say their support has been growing on North Prospect, with fewer and fewer expressions of disapproval and more and more exuberant expressions of support, but the super-busy street is not a very good venue for actually talking to people.

One Main Street offers the opportunity to talk with passers-by as well as the slower automobile traffic. A large rally on March 19 commemorating the second anniversary of US war in Iraq drew larger than expected crowds at the site.

We'll also note something from Eric Alterman. We don't note him here that often. (I think we've done it once and I was the one noting him.) But he got slapped down by Gerald Boyd in a gatekeeper moment (on Boyd's part surprisingly). Though it may be a long time coming, I'll admit that I felt sorry for him. And in the last print copy of The Nation that's arrived in my mail box, he has an article about the phony WMD investigation.

From Alterman's "Case Closed:"

After all, for all his hurt feelings on display before the report was released, does anyone think Colin Powell would have given radically different testimony to the world at his famous February 2003 UN speech if the single drunken defector who was his main source had offered another perspective, one Powell and his bosses didn't want to hear? What if "Curveball" (or as Maureen Dowd aptly termed him, "Goofball") had echoed what Powell originally knew but conveniently forgot--that, as the Secretary explained in Cairo in February 2001, Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." Would anyone in the Administration have cared what this unreliable drunk said? What of the many, many intelligence experts who warned, pre-invasion, that the data were being manipulated by hawks in the Pentagon and the Vice President's office? Did anyone listen to them?
[. . .]

Yet even in the most critical reports of this phony whitewash, one aspect of this shameful episode went by largely forgotten: the media's willingness to publicize, vouch for and frequently hype the dishonest case the Administration put forth. I am not speaking just of Judith Miller's willingness to act as unpaid propagandist for the Pentagon, breaking the Times's own reporting rules on its front page in order to mislead its millions of readers. Rather, just about every bigfoot in the business signed on for this bad-acid trip across Bushland. I refer again to a devastating study by former Des Moines Register editorial page editor Gilbert Cranberg of the immediate reaction of the press to Powell's channeling of Goofball at the United Nations, which should serve as a cautionary example to any reporter who ever again takes this Administration at its word. Despite the fact that Powell cited almost no verifiable sources and included more than forty vague references to "human sources," "an eyewitness," "detainees," "an Al Qaeda source," "a senior defector," "intelligence sources," his words were treated as if the reporters present had personally witnessed God handing him the evidence on tablets atop Mount Sinai. Powell offered up, we were told in our finest newspapers: "a massive array of evidence," "a sober, factual case," "an overwhelming case," "a smoking fusillade...a persuasive case for anyone who is still persuadable," "an accumulation of painstakingly gathered and analyzed evidence," "an ironclad case...incontrovertible evidence," "succinct and damning evidence...the case is closed."

The e-mail address for this site is

Only thought I was done. Troy also calls our attention to a Sunday event via Food Not Bombs' "Come to the Food Not Bombs Kick off Picnic! Sunday -- 4pm Scott Park" from Urbana-Champaign IMC:

It's been a long winter of hibernation, but now we're ready to shake off the snow, get out in the sun, and serve up some tasty food to the hungry masses! To begin the season, we're having a huge community picnic with live music, relaxing, and dancing.

Sunday, April 17th @ 4pm
Scott Park,
Springfield and Third in Champaign.

Food Not Bombs is one of the fastest growing anti-war, anti-poverty revolutionary movements active today with chapters all the world. We share free vegetarian food with anyone who wants it.

Food Not Bombs is open to everyone.

Co-Sponsoring Groups:
Afrikan-American Cultural Arts Program
Anti-War, Anti-Racism Effort
Campaign for Access to Emergency Contraception
Campus Vegetarian Society
Citizens for Peace and JusticeIllinois
Men Against Sexual Violence
Planned Parenthood Teen Awareness Group
School for Designing a Society
Take Back The Night Organizers
Uni High Activism Club
University YMCA
Urbana Permaculture Project
See also: