Archive for December, 2009
I was with a small group of protesters today at the new Army Recruiting Center downtown near Ground Zero. Two police cars were called by the recruiters; apparently holding signs saying “Don’t Enlist! Resist!” and handing out hundreds of flyers seemed very dangerous.
A young German literature student stood for a long time, offering help from afar, and asking why people in the US are so quiet about the war. Just then a woman pushing a baby stroller sped by, took a flyer, and said that the recruiters have been open for weeks already — “where have you been?” I had to ask where she had been if it bothers her so much.
400 people took flyers in an hour, dozens of people thanked us, 4 cops glowered at us, 3 self-described ex-Marines screamed at us. The Marine recruiters down the street started sending their guys in dress uniforms to strut up and down the block, so we went down there for awhile, discussing with two new recruits why they were joining. “To keep America safe.” “Because I can learn discipline.”
Elaine Brower told them about her son’s two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, with the Marines. “You’re just going to be killing people there. How is that going to make anyone safe?” She ran it down. They got more and more quiet. After 20 minutes, the Staff Sergeant pulled them back inside, under orders not to engage with us.
We’ll be back on Chambers Street Wednesdays at noon. No doubt this will all get more interesting, and important a thing to be doing.
REPORT FROM . . .
Film Screening of ”Rethink Afghanistan” and Discussion with H. Candace Gorman, Lawyer for Two Guantanamo Bay Detainees, and Anthony Wagner, Iraq War Veteran.
On Saturday, December 12, Chicago World Can’t Wait hosted a screening of Robert Greenwald’s documentary Rethink Afghanistan – a hard-hitting film that focuses on the human and financial costs of combat in the Middle East to challenge the notion that Afghanistan is “the good war.” The screening was held at the Sulzer Regional Library on Chicago’s north side. The room was filled with people from the neighborhood as well as activists. During the screening, the room was hushed. The film contains unforgettable images of the suffering and casualties that have resulted from U.S. bombing in Afghanistan – hopeless children in bombed out villages without shoes, burn victims, broken bodies. Greenwald’s film dissects the administration’s justifications for this war while forcefully arguing that troop escalation threatens to entrench America in an unwinnable, unwanted war that only empowers the resurgent Taliban.
After the film, Candace Gorman talked about her experiences as legal counsel for two Guantanamo Bay detainees and shared her concerns regarding human rights abuses at U.S. prisons in Afghanistan. She explained how difficult it was to meet and talk with the detainees that she represents. Sadly, they are still in detention, without charges or trial. Anthony Wagner talked about his experiences as an Iraq War veteran and the difficulties veterans face with post traumatic stress syndrome and getting treatment. The audience asked Candace Gorman and Anthony Wagner many questions. Almost the entire crowd stayed for the discussion long after the film had ended. Most people didn’t leave until the library closed. Clearly, this event was very engaging.
Chicago World Can’t Wait is planning to host more screenings of Rethink Afghanistan in other neighborhoods in the Chicago area. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Many World Can’t Wait friends and supporters are on the Gaza Freedom March. An offer by parts of the Egyptian government to let only 100 of the 1300 marchers into Gaza was ultimately rejected earlier today, so the March is still in Cairo. For days the riot police have not allowed them to gather, meet, and get organized. A hunger strike started Tuesday by some of the marchers began to break through into mainstream US media, including the NY Times today.
Revolution writer Alan Goodman is blogging from the revolutionary communist perspective, bringing us inside a tense gathering of the Egyptian Journalist Syndicate, a kind of protest rally as press conference, and introducing us to the police-state conditions the opposition faces there. Alan made NYC news a year ago when, during the Israeli attack “Cast Lead” on Gaza, he went in front of the Holocaust Museum here with a banner saying “”After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel.”
Veterans for Peace members Bill Perry (posting photos) and Mike Hearington (posting updates) are there, my longtime friend Sarah Roche-Mahdi of Cambridge; Laurie Arbeiter, Sarah Wellington and Tarak Kauff brought banners and the “We Will Not be Silent” shirts in Arabic. And friend Ann Wright is one of the principal organizers of the Gaza Freedom March.
Sami Abdul-Shafi writes in the Guardian (UK) yesterday, This is not humane. We need dignity, about the conditions facing the people of Gaza under siege.
We had wood-fired coffee next to the rubble of my friend’s family’s former homes – all levelled during Israel’s three-week war on Gaza that started one year ago. His only source of income, a taxi, was crushed by Israeli tanks during the assault. He agonises about how his children no longer respect him as their father. He is unable to provide them with the security of a house and an independent family life; they lost everything.
The US “war on terror” is modeled on the Israeli war on the Palestinians. The whole of it is illegitimate, immoral, unjust.
Salute to the Gaza Freedom Marchers!
In August, 150 of us gathered in Bellevue Nebraska when Operation Rescue called Dr. Leroy Carhart it’s “Target #1. Their turnout on the weekend was small, but they’re well-funded, and serious about ending abortion access in the U.S. They did everything possible — an ultimately, incited murder — against Dr. George Tiller in Wichita. Dr. Carhart had worked in Dr. Tiller’s clinic for more than a decade.
In early December, Dr. Carhart announced that he’s set up his Bellevue clinic to provide abortions to women in later second term, and, in the case of medical necessity, the third trimester of pregnancy. This means that women who’ve had to place to go since Dr. Tiller was killed, now have an able, caring physician.
And it means Operation Rescue is renewing their targeting of him…not based on any concern for women, but on ruthless, unprincipled crusade to stop all abortion and birth control access.
We sent a petition to Jon Bruning, the Attorney General of Nebraska, last week, demanding that he not cater to Operation Rescue’s phony complaints. Here are a few of the comments 1500 supporters posted:
I find it quite ironic that the same people who want “government out of their lives” are also those who are proposing to have the government stick its nose into a woman’s belly! Ilse Hadda, CA
Thank you Dr. Carhart for continuing the work that our Doctor once did. Kansas misses Dr. Tiller. Kansas appreciates YOU. Keep fighting! Kari Ann Rinker, KS
Dr. Carhart is clearly doing what he does out of deep concern for women’s health, and respect for the difficult choices some women have to make. I think the state of Nebraska should support the ethical and lawful work that he does, and make sure he isn’t continually harassed by baseless legal challenges. Emily Hines
I am heartened to see more than a few men have signed this petition. Thank you, Dr. Carhart, for your courage and concern for women’s lives. For every one person writing here, there are thousands who support you. Mary Truchelut, FL
We’ve got to remind people that it’s always got to be up to a woman whether or not she ends her pregnancy. The government has no place in that decision. Women should be in control of their bodies, not the government. El Salvador outlawed ending pregnancy and they have actually had government agents serve search warrants to inspect women’s uteruses for scars indicating surgery! Keep the government out of women’s bodies! Grady Kallenbach
And, the novelist and poet Marge Piercy wrote:
women have the constitutional right to control our bodies, but this right is being eroded. I grew up when this right was denied and lost my best friend who bled to death from a botched backstreet abortion. Women will decide whether it is permitted by the state or not. We always have.
You can still sign the petition, which we’re sending to Dr. Carhart.
Supporters of Abortion Doctor LeRoy Carhart Petition Nebraska Attorney General to Reject Politically Motivated Complaints
For immediate release
December 21, 2009
Contact: Debra Sweet 866 973 4463
Supporters of Abortion Doctor LeRoy Carhart Petition Nebraska Attorney General to Reject Politically Motivated Complaints
1,249 supporters of Bellevue, Nebraska abortion provider Dr. LeRoy Carhart are calling on Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning to reject Wichita-based Operation Rescue’s complaints against the doctor.
Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat who forced abortion-limiting language into the Senate health bill passed Saturday, is also from Nebraska.
The petition, being sent via certified mail today, says in part, “We recognize the important national role that Dr. Carhart plays in defending women’s rights and strongly urge the Attorney General to ignore the completely baseless allegations submitted by the organization called Operation Rescue, or any other groups with an anti-abortion, anti-women agenda.”
Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait, said, “Operation Rescue, in correspondence with their anti-abortion agenda, focused on Dr. George Tiller, with years of clinic blockades, protests, as well as filing numerous legal complaints against him. Not long before Dr. Tiller was murdered in May of this year, allegedly by an anti-abortion activist, he had been acquitted of all charges after years of legal proceedings, stemming from similar allegations from Operation Rescue.”
Dr. Carhart recently announced that he has taken on new staff to provide abortions later in pregnancy as Dr. Tiller did before his murder. The petition says, “Dr. LeRoy Carhart is a dedicated, caring abortion provider with decades of practice providing medical care to women in need of abortion. After the assassination of his colleague Dr. George Tiller this past spring, he has taken up the cause to ‘Trust Women’ and continued his practice in the face of threats both violent and legal. He is the sort of courageous, principled person who we as a society should support, honor and respect.”
For immediate release December 17, 2009
Contact: Elaine Brower 917-520-0767
Anti-War Protest at Army’s New Chambers St. Recruiting Center
What: Picket line / Speak-out / Photo op
Where: 143 Chambers Street @ West Broadway
When: 12:00 pm, Friday December 18, 2009
In response to the opening today of the Army’s new recruiting center in downtown Manhattan, opponents of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq announced a protest tomorrow.
World Can’t Wait, Code Pink, Veterans for Peace and members of Military Families Speak Out/NY will be protesting.
Elaine Brower, mother of a US marine who has been deployed to both war zones, said.
“We know that President Obama wants to increase the size of the military by 92,000. The current military is tired and war-weary. They can’t keep sending these same guys back four times. They’re going nuts. The Army needs to fill those spots, and they will get them any way they can, whether it’s through teaching kids to play violent video games that simulate the killing of other human beings at the Army Experience Center trial project in Philadelphia or setting up near a college where kids are graduating with so much debt and no jobs.”
The Army says it chose the Chambers Street location to be near the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Stuyvesant High School, both located further west on the street.
– 30 –
By Elaine Brower on OpEdNews
For the last year or so I have been watching the construction of a new “Army Career Center” located a block from my office in downtown Manhattan. Once a week I would pass it and it was always closed and covered with brown paper on the big plate glass windows. It is located in an ideal spot, of course, because the military hires consultants to make sure they get prime real estate to suck up the youth.
Today the Army Career Center had its grand opening, a gala event that packed the center. I was able to make it there, but not until the end of the ceremony, when everyone had pretty much left, except for the Sgt. in charge, Castillo, and the brass. They were sitting around enjoying their food and smiling when I walked into the center. I asked for Sgt. Castillo, and was taken to the back room where he was sitting, along with his commanding officer, and another young soldier. I shook hands all around and introduced myself and told them my son just returned from his third tour of duty.
I recounted his story of joining the Marine Corps and being deployed to Afghanistan, and then to Iraq twice as a reservist. They were very impressed and asked me when did he return, and was he still in the Marines. Yes, I said, he was in the IRR at present, but is a New York City Police Officer as his full time job, which he has been doing for 5 years.
He was deployed twice while he was on the NYPD, and I told them that it was very hard for him to get his life started. They agreed and looked interested in the story.
I asked them about the local schools that they were so strategically placed next to, like the High School down the street, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. I said, “this is a good location for recruiting. You are so close to the schools and students pass your doors all day long. Do you plan on gaining entrance to the schools to do recruiting in the classes?” Sgt. Castillo said that they had asked permission and were awaiting approval, which he didn’t think would be a problem. I thought to myself nor do I, of course. The war machine is more than welcome in our schools, at every level. But I continued. “I work right down the street.” Sgt. Castillo asked where and who I worked for and I told him. He smiled and said “Wow, that’s great.”
I was sitting there in the back office, and then stated “I would like you to know that I am a member of a national organization called ‘Military Families Speak Out’ and it has about 4,000 members who all have loved ones who are serving or served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We oppose the wars vehemently and are doing everything in our power to stop them.”
I thought they would choke on their food at that point. Then I proceeded to say, “Since I work right here, I, along with hundreds of my activist friends, will be your worst nightmare!”
As you could hear a pin drop and confusion spread all over their faces, I continued. “I am so against what you are doing. You strategically placed this recruiting center so that kids who are either coming out of high school with nowhere to go, or those who graduate college in lots of debt and no jobs because of the economy are enticed to join the military.” “You are taking full advantage of the bad economy and sending more of our youth off to die and kill for illegal, immoral and illegitimate wars. You should be ashamed of yourselves and I don’t know how you sleep at night.”
I stood up, took a button off my handbag that I received while protesting at West Point. I said, “This button is for you.” I slammed it on the desk. “I got it when I was protesting at West Point when Obama was giving his “escalation speech.” It demands all troops home now, you can keep it as a reminder.”
At that point I thought they would stand up and escort me out. But they were in such shock, after spending the morning celebrating their existence, to hear that now they would be up against an angry mom, and counter-recruiters, put their small pea brains on overload.
In the new age of Obama, recruiting is a cushy job. This place had its doors open for a few days and already they are touting 11 new recruits. Those who would not fight and die for Bush, will do so under Obama which makes it extremely difficult to convince this generation of youth that joining this imperial military is not only bad for them, it’s bad for humanity.
And so it goes, I know where to have lunch every day now. Getting in the way of the war machine is what I like to do best, and they couldn’t have put this place in a better location, for me anyway!
On Monday December 21, we’re sending a petition to the Attorney General of Nebraska against investigations the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue is demanding on Dr. Leroy Carhart’s practice.
SIGN the petition supporting Dr. Carhart
Please sign it.
Dr. Carhart, who worked with Dr. George Tiller for years before he was killed in May, is determined to carry on Dr. Tiller’s work of providing later term abortions for women around the U.S. He announced earlier this month that indeed, he is performing abortions at 22 to 28 weeks in his Omaha clinic, and later if there is medical necessity. This is at tremendous risk for himself and his family, and of tremendous benefit for the women who, without Dr, Tiller, were not getting the care they needed.
The goal is 1000 signers by Friday December 18. If you haven’t signed yet, you can now. Please ask your friends and colleagues to sign and circulate it. Put it on your FaceBook, your blog, and please send the link around quickly!
We don’t expect the Attorney General, who is anti-abortion, to back off from one petition. But everyone involved should know this is a two-sided battle.
Friday, January 22nd counter-protest to the March for Life in front of the Supreme Court.
January 2010: The 30 minute film, “Abortion, Morality and the Emancipation of Women” with Dr. Susan Wicklund, author or This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor, and Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper will be available for campus showings.
Debra Sweet, Director, The World Can’t Wait
On Saturday, December 12, 2009, an antiwar rally was held at Lafayette Square Park by the White House. Speakers included Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges all speaking out against the recent escalation of troops into Afghanistan and against Obama’s wars. This is my speech.