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Debra and I just spoke and she gave her final report of today’s events. She is glad that she was there and said it was worth being there. She was very heartened by the young feminists she met who she says were on fire and jumped right in to counter the antis.
At the heighth of things at around 1 pm there was about 100 pro-choice and abortion rights activists. At that point Terry O’ Neil and Debra spoke. Debra says it was difficult to hear at times. But later just before the antis marched it quieted down and the group of 100 gathered at the plaza and Debra spoke briefly about importance and necessity to take on this fight to protect abortion rights and stand up for women. She then asked the crowd why they had come today and passed around the mic. One person was from El Salvador and another from Chilie. This was very striking and moving as abortion is illegal in Latin America. There were students from American University, George Town University, George Washington University and Catholic Universities. There were also young staffers from Feminist Majority, NOW, and Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Debra spoke to a lot of young anti-abortion people. Ages 15 and up. She was struck by how their lines are always changing. Many of them did not have good arguments to come back at her with. She pointed out that many of them are being told a bald faced lie: they’ve been told that abortion is killing huge proportions of women when in reality denying women the access to abortion and birth control is what kills women.
Many of the young people from the universities that came out to stand up for women and abortion rights have asked Debra to come speak at their schools. They are excited to hear that a film is being put together that features a talk by Dr. Susan Wicklund, abortion provider and Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper.
Debra will be writing more later about todays events so stay tuned for that.
Debra just reported that they are face to face and surrounded by scary anti-abortion crowd repeating the same old lies about abortion. We must never let these tactics stand in the way of our standing up for the other half of humanity: Women! Stand with those today who are standing up for women and the doctors who care for them!
Debra reports that there are about 100 abortion rights activists taking on all 75,000 antis in front of the Suprem Court. She reports many young women in the crowd of 100 taking on this fight for women everywhere. The scene is wild with holy rollers singing Christian rock and young people wearing red tape over their mouths with “Life” scrawled on it. I wonder if they would ever consider wearing a black hood and orange jump suit in solidarity with the detainees being held indefinitely and being tortured by our government…what about their lives? Or do they think of Black and Latina Women who are living lives forced poverty and oppression here in the United States…what about their lives…a fetus is not a person!
Here’s what’s happening at the face book event Celebrate Roe V. Wade Day. Here’s a comment from someone:
Jill McLaughlin here of World Can’t Wait. I’m guest blogging on Debra Sweet’s blog today as she reports to us about taking on the anti-women/anti-abortion groups who have the audacity to march on DC on the anniversary of Roe V. Wade. If ever there was a need for visible resistance to the onslaught of assaults on the rights of women it is now.
Here is what Debra reported earlier:Heading to DC to stand up to the anti-abortion, anti-women, anti-science, pro-patriarchy “March for Life!”
Sounds pretty determined to me. Stay tuned as I recieve updates from Debra!
Also today the trial of Scott Roedere starts today. He was the man who murdered Dr. George Tiller in May of last year. Dr. Tiller and other abortion providers are heros to women everywhere…we need to watch very closely what happens in this trial as it sure to set a precedent about providers and the women they care for.
Susan Wicklund, M.D. sent this for the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which removed federal and state laws against abortion. The National Organization for Women in Wichita KS is holding a vigil in honor of her friend George Tiller, M.D. who was assassinated in May 2009:
None of us can pretend to know what Dr Tiller would say to us right now. We know what he used to say about understanding the heart of a woman. We know what he believed about each woman having the knowledge to really understand what was best for HER. We know, tragically, that he gave his life for what he believed in. We know that his family lost a husband, a father, a grandfather, We know that the Pro Choice movement lost one of our biggest heroes, a compassionate, extremely competent physician, a voice that spoke truth, a rock we all thought could never be moved.
What we DON’T know is what will become of the women in this country if the right to safe, legal abortion continues to be eroded and compromised and marginalized and becomes even more inaccessible. We don’t know to what extent the anti-choice forces will go to deny even more women the right to control their own destinies. We don’t know how many more clinics will be burned, staff terrorized or doctors killed. We don’t know if our government will actually step up and make sure abortion is treated as the basic health care we all know it is.
But I personally know this: George Tiller would tell us to never back down, to never stop telling the truth, to never forget the individual woman who walks in the door of a clinic in need of help in ending a pregnancy she is not prepared for. And he knew that this is about us. All of us. And it is about your mothers and wives, your sisters and daughters and granddaughters and best friends. It is about someone else wanting to control us. It is about power.
Please, in honor of Dr George Tiller, use your voices and your presence and your hearts to keep abortion safe, legal and available to every woman, to every family that needs this care. This is not some esoteric concept. This is a matter of life and death.
While driving to protest at C.I.A. headquarters Saturday, a spokesperson for the Pakistan USA Freedom Forum called me to say that Pakistanis agree with our opposition to the U.S. use of un-manned drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and perhaps on other countries. He said these drone attacks only make people oppose the US occupations more, and will drive people into the arms of the religious fundamentalists, and not keep the U.S. safer.
Cindy Sheehan organized the protest through Peace of the Action, a sustained anti-war protest which begins in 8 weeks in Washington. This is the first protest at CIA headquarters in many years, and the first time the anti-war movement united specifically to protest the drones. Joshua Smith gives some of the history and planes U.S. use of drones, explaining that the military is increasingly going to drones instead of manned bombers.
Hearing how the Obama administration is vastly increasing the use of drones; and knowing this is virtually a secret program brought the importance of this first protest to all of us. See Jane Mayer’s piece The Predator War: What are the risks of the C.I.A.’s covert drone program? (The huge show of police forces, with officers in the woods and cameras trained from every direction on us showed that the government was impressed by our message.)
Since one of the protesters carried a sign saying “Victory to the Taliban” I thought it necessary to make clear that the protest supported neither the illegitimate U.S. “war of terror” on the people, nor the religious fundamentalists of the Taliban, neither of who represent the interests of the people. Debra Sweet speech Audio.
To take that further, if in fact you support either, you end up strengthening both. I learned much from the way Bob Avakian argues the need to oppose both the “historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system” in his talk Unresolved Contractions: Driving Forces for Revolution. Sunsara Taylor brought this to bear on arguments within the US antiwar movement in U.S. Imperialism, Islamic Fundamentalism…and the Need for Another Way.
Looking at the crimes of our government as Americans, but as people who care about humanity, we should not be afraid to look squarely at what contradictions present themselves to this movement.
Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Non Violence, told of speaking with a man who survived a drone attack:
In late May and early June of 2009, while visiting in Pakistan, a man from the village of Khaisor, also in North Waziristan, told us about his experience as a survivor of a drone attack. Jane Mayer, writing in The New Yorker, mentioned that the people operating the drones and analyzing the surveillance intelligence have a word for people like him who managed to survive a blast and run away. They are called “squirters.” So, I suppose he would have been considered a squirter.
This man, at some risk to himself, walked a long distance and took two buses to meet with us. Because of travel restrictions, we would not have been allowed to visit him in North Waziristan. His village is so remote that there are no roads leading up to it. Five hundred people live there. One day, three strangers entered Khaisor and went to the home of vigil elders. For centuries, villagers have followed a code of hospitality which demands that when strangers come to your door, you feed them and give them drink. It’s not as though you can point them toward a Motel 6 or a 7-11. The strangers were welcomed into the home they approached and they left after having been served a meal. They were long gone when, at 4:30 a.m. a U.S. drone, operated by the C.I.A. fired 2 Hellfire missiles into the home they had visited, killing 12 people, two of whom were village elders. Children were dismembered and maimed.
“What do people do?” I asked, “if you’ve no Emergency Medical Teams, if you’ve no roads?” I was wearing a “tbutta” the long scarf that Pakistani women traditionally wear. “You see your scarf,” my friend said. “We wrap it around the wounded person, as tightly as we can, to stop the bleeding.” I could imagine the white scarf I wore becoming blood-soaked, in seconds.
Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space and Jack Ryan, a faster with Witness Against Torture this week, also spoke. Some media was present:
The Associated Press published a short, distorted account by a reporter who was present and interviewed us. Cindy is pressing for a retraction:
Ms. Gresko, from the AP was at the protest for the entire time. She interviewed myself, all of the other speakers, and some of those in attendance.
We feel that all of the speakers at the event and the stated reason for the protest were very clear—we were there protesting the loss of innocent life due to the cowardly and immoral use of drones by the CIA that actually kill about one-hundred times more civilians than “suspected terrorists.”
Since Ms. Gresko’s story came out falsely declaring that we were there to protest the use of drones on “al Qaeda and Taliban,” I have received dozens of hate mails, one of which even called my dead son Casey a “queer” and a “faggot.”
P.S. On January 17, Cindy Sheehan wrote
This afternoon a group of us from Peace of the Action went to the Smithsonian to hang a banner which read
“Drones Kill Kids” in front of the killer drone exhibit sponsored by General Atomics (manufacturers of the killer drones)
A few thoughts on the terrible suffering of the Haitian people who need help, not chiding by Christian fundamentalists or repression from the U.S. Marines:
“You’re doing a heckuva job, Bushie!”
Why would Barack Obama appoint George W. Bush to be the public face of aid for Haiti? How about asking the people of New Orleans…who still don’t have housing after Katrina… how Bush made that disaster worse?
A friend of mine whose son is in the Marines said, “great, just what Haiti needs, the U.S. Marines are coming.” How about asking the people of Afghanistan how they feel about being “saved” by the Marines? The US military refuses to let the United Nations be in charge, as they don’t take orders.
The editors of Revolution newspaper said last night, “The Haitian People Need Emergency Assistance – NOT Suppression and Further Domination!”
The means exist to rescue and aid the Haitian people! These must be made immediately available by the governments of the world and, first and foremost, the United States. While some governments have sent doctors and other forms of aid, as of Thursday morning the United States has focused on sending paratroopers and militarily securing the area. While Obama has now promised 100 million dollars, the U.S. government is above all concerned with ensuring the continuation of the repressive government order and controlling and/or suppressing the initiative and efforts of masses to deal with this horrible situation. (100 million dollars is less than one-tenth of one percent of U.S. yearly military expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan.) The U.S. government must immediately focus its resources on getting aid directly to the Haitian people, putting supplies on the ground and marshaling the many doctors, engineers, construction workers, etc. who work for the government, as well as the many many people who would volunteer to help any way that they could. THIS IS A HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY, AND MUST BE DEALT WITH AS SUCH.
Respect to Rachel Maddow for her program Wednesday night which looked behind the U.S. A.I.D. effort to sweet into Haiti, using the disaster to further transform the country into dependency on the U.S.
Kevin Gosztola, a supporter of World Can’t Wait and film maker, comments further in OpEd News today, Will USAID, Right Wing Think Tanks & Private Interests Create Aftershocks in Haiti? Kevin asks important questions, “What will happen to the people of Haiti after the earthquake? What private interests or U.S. interests will seek to control the direction of Haiti? Will interests seek to capitalize off the crisis?”
Most of the world has nothing but contempt for Pat Robertson! There are plenty of religious people rushing to aid Haiti. But Robertson’s statement that Haitian independence came because the people made a “pact with the devil” which has left the country “cursed by one thing after the other” is not only racist and xenophobic, but hardens the Christian “fascists” who follow him against the Haitian people. Robertson called the earthquake a “blessing in disguise” because they may have a “great turning to God.” F- – - Pat Robertson!
Tuesday January 12, on both coasts, World Can’t Wait, Code Pink and other people of conscience demanded the prosecution of John Yoo, the principal legal architect of the justification of torture by the United States.
In Berkeley, where his 2010 class schedule called for the first class of the semester, UC officials made the location secret, they said, because of “concerns for students’ safety.” One might note that it would be more dangerous for a law student to be taught Constitutional law by someone who opposed international law on the subject of torture (not to mention U.S. law) than for those students to encounter advocates against torture.
But no matter. 20 people delivered the message that John Yoo should be prosecuted for war crimes; disbarred from practicing law; and fired from his teaching position at Boalt Hall School of Law. Not, as we have said many times, for what he thinks, writes, or speaks as a professor, but because he provided the legal justification for torture while working for the Bush regime, which led to the deaths of detainees.
Jackson West blogged on NBC News in the Bay Area “John Yoo Charm Campaign ‘Secret’ Classes at Cal” that “Torture memo” author John Yoo has nothing to hide, except John Yoo.
The protest took the question directly to Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley’s office on Tuesday. Anna Bloom noted all the subterfuge the Law School administration is practicing in The New York Times Bay Area blog noted it Wednesday in John Yoo’s Spring Course at Boalt: Hide and Seek.
This story is so not over! More upcoming at FireJohnYoo.org.
In NYC, Yoo promoted his new book at the Cornell Club. Outside, we talked to members of the Cornell Club entering the building who had no idea why Yoo would be speaking there; and to people attending the event. A dozen told us they were going in to question Yoo on torture, and of course there were Federalist Society members and others who vocally defended torture, racial profiling, nuclear weapons, and the swift, violent demise of people like us who questioned the “war on terror.”
Protesting John YooThe night went to those inside who questioned, challenged, and denounced Yoo for promoting torture. First was Richie, wearing an “Audacity of War Crimes” message on his shirt, who added to the introduction of Yoo. “John Yoo is a war criminal!” He was roughly dragged from the room, but seems to have gotten everyone’s’ attention.
After Yoo’s presentation, the first question was from Stephanie Rugoff, co-ordinator of War Criminals Watch, a project of World Can’t Wait. “With so many lawyers in the room, I want to know why John Yoo isn’t being prosecuted for war crimes?”
3 women from Code Pink brought a banner “John Yoo is a War Criminal” and were escorted out for holding it up. Another woman challenged Yoo, and stalked out, saying she was disgusted to be in the company of those who promote torture.
Outside, a lively discussion followed, as people filing out stopped to ask why we felt so strongly about Yoo and torture. We found many people who opposed it. One of the common questions, though was, “He just gave his legal opinion. Why is that a crime?”
We’ve encountered law students recently who have never heard of the Nuremberg war crimes trials. But to the older lawyers, there’s one word: Nuremberg. The U.S. prosecuted the Nazi lawyers in 1946 on the premise that the lawyers have the “penultimate” responsibility to ensure that laws of war are followed by a government.
The Bush regime was, and remains, forever marked by its flagrant disdain for international and U.S. law that didn’t serve its agenda. Bush made his own law through hundreds of executive orders and signing statements, beginning with his doctrine of pre-emptive, agressive war against countries which did not attack the U.S.
If you knew torture and the culture supporting it could be stopped, wouldn’t you protest Yoo?
Friday, he will be at the Federalist Society in Washington DC. The event is said to be sold out, but as we learned last night, being outside with the message of prosecuting the torturers is very effective.
Monday January 11 is the 8th anniversary of the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo. The emblematic symbol of the Bush regime’s “war on terror,” in which men were openly tortured, kept in isolation, force-fed, and for years deprived of any legal respresentation or contact with the outside world, is still open.
It’s being called “Obama’s prison” now. On January 22, 2009, the new president announced that he would close Guantanamo in a year because it’s existence was a public relations nightmare for U.S. foreign policy makers. As of this week, there’s no closing date, but a vague indication it could be closed in 2011.
I learned when reading the new book The Guantanamo Lawyers; Inside a Prison Outside the Law, edited by Mark Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz, that the Bush regime opened it on the grounds of a former prison where Haitians and others fleeing poverty were kept in the 80′s and 90′s. The first detainees were kept in open cages, with almost no shelter from the elements. Building new structures allowed the jailers to keep some men in complete isolation.
Book TV is showing a talk by the authors twice on Sunday January 10.
Andy Worthington, in Guantánamo: The Definitive Prisoner List (Updated for 2010), called it
a prison in which the overwhelming majority of those held — at least 93 percent of the 779 men and boys imprisoned in total — were either completely innocent people, seized as a result of dubious intelligence or sold for bounty payments, or Taliban foot soldiers, recruited to fight an inter-Muslim civil war that began long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and that had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or international terrorism.
Andy wrote this week about Attorney General Holder’s announcement that Obaidullah, an Afghan held in Guantanamo, will be tried by the Obama-style military commission for “war crimes” in Tortured Afghan Man Faces Trial by Military Commission.
Andy spoke with World Can’t Wait activists in early 2009, stating his hope, and some confidence, that the Obama administration would establish a process to release the innocent. But he ends the current column on this note
With the news that Obaidullah is to be charged again, when he is not actually accused of harming a single American, and when he may, in fact, have been tortured, through sleep deprivation and “Palestinian hanging,” to produce false confessions against himself and at least one other prisoner, leads me not only to repeat the question, but to actively call for the open mockery of Attorney General Eric Holder and the lawyers and bureaucrats in the Justice Department and the Pentagon who thought that reviving the charges against him was a good idea.
The administration is fighting in federal court on many fronts to continue the Bush detention policies, and just won a victory. According to Stephen Webster, the decision in al-Bihani v Obama “upholds the Bush administration’s broad claims of executive power to detain non-citizens. See D.C. Court of Appeals: Obama’s Detention Powers not Limited by Laws.
But we are not just complaining on this anniversary. There’s a Call to Action to Shut Down Guantanamo. I’ll be joining Witness Against Torture in protests outside the White House Monday. We will march to the National Press Club, where some of the lawyers defending detainees in Guantanamo will speak about their clients, organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights. That evening, we’ll have a public meeting at Georgetown Law School. I hope you’ll join in.
On a last note, the Obama administration has proposed the idea of relocating the detainees to an unused super-max federal prison in Thompson Illinois. World Can’t Wait is completely opposed to the indefinite detention of anyone without legal rights, no matter what the location. Prisoners are held in super-max American prisons already in complete isolation, and I can only imagine that the Guantanamo prisoners could disappear in plain sight along the Mississippi.
Margaret Kimberly, editor at the Black Agenda Report, went on a righteous rant, ending her piece called Guantanamo, Illinois with
In less than one year in office, Barack Obama has firmly established the continuation of Bush regime domestic, foreign and economic policy. While Guantanamo is unseen, Illinois is right in the middle of the United States. None of us can now claim absolution from our government sin. Obama and his supporters have made us all accomplices. The ongoing Guantanamo crime now belongs to the Nobel Peace Prize winner and to every American citizen.