Posted by Next Left Notes - March 29, 2008 | News

A graphic of an Iraqi mother mourning rests against a recruiter’s car.
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — In a series of protests organizers called “Five Years Of War – Five Days Of Protest”, Staten Islanders took to the streets of the “Forgotten Borough” to mark the tragic milestone of 4000 KIA in Iraq. The 4000th death to be confirmed by the Department of Defense was announced early on Monday, March 24. Debra Anderson of Military Families Speak Out responded immediately by calling Tom Good from Movement for a Democratic Society. Working together, the organizers planned and executed a mobile vigil that visited the St. George Recruiting Center, Borough Hall, Vito Fossella’s (R, NY-13) congressional office and the Staten Island Mall. Joining MFSO and MDS in the streets were several members of Peace Action Staten Island who took time out from planning an April 5th rally to participate in the vigils.

“History will record this week as possibly the first time Staten Island led NYC boroughs in antiwar protests. Catch the heck up, Manhattan!” – Todd Eaton, maintainer of the NY Protest activist calendar.

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Posted by TAG - | News

Rally goers commemorate those killed in the US invasion of Iraq
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — A number of organizations participated in a UFPJ organized “River To River” protest in New York City on March 22. Lining up on busy 14th Street the protesters hoped to link hands – from the East River to the Hudson. While the line was a bit thin in spots enthusiasm was high. A short march to Union Square East culminated in a rally that included a moment of silence for the fallen – and the angelic voice of activist singer Holly Near who sang for the assembled while urging them to continue to struggle to end the war.

MDS forms up on 14th Street
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

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Posted by TAG - | News

SDS in the streets of Washington, D.C. on March 19th
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

WASHINGTON — Members of DC SDS took to the streets on March 19, the fifth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The young activists held what appeared to be block parties – in the middle of several intersections in downtown Washington. Each impromptu gathering would begin with large numbers of students entering an intersection while playing music from a beat box drawn on a little red wagon. Protesters would then dance in the streets as they held signs reading “Funk The War” and “Done With Dying – SDS”. Eventually DC police would arrive on the scene and clear the intersection. This went on for several hours – without incident. In addition to the intersection blockades the protesters visited the offices of Parsons – war profiteers who specialize in manufacturing prisons – and others who are profiting from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point a literal sea of protesters descended on a military recruiting center. The center was guarded by a line of DC police. Adjacent to the police were about three pro-war demonstrators. The antiwar activist throng danced and chanted in front of the recruiting center as construction workers looked on from across the street. There were no arrests at any of the actions.

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Posted by William Blum - March 24, 2008 | News

Author William Blum “freezes” at DC’s Union Station
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Washington, DC – March 23, 2008. Freeze! No, it wasn’t the police or the FBI breaking into a house and yelling at a bunch of dangerous radicals. It was a hundred dangerous radicals telling the White House and the Pentagon to freeze their crimes against humanity — five years of heartless destruction of a five thousand year civilization. The radicals were at Union Station in Washington mingling with a crowd of commuters on March 18. At a set moment they all ceased any motion and stood in place, unmoving and silent, to the surprise and confusion of the commuters. At the five-minute mark they all began chanting “Rise up! End the War!” Many commuters joined in. It was a marvelous moment.

CodePINK’s Medea Benjamin “freezes”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

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Posted by Devra Morice - March 23, 2008 | News

An SDSer outside war profiteer L3’s Manhattan office
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

New York, NY – March 19, 2008. On the 5th Anniversary of the Iraq War, Students for a Democratic Society-NYC staged a protest and blockade outside the Manhattan office of L3 Communications, the sixth largest military contractor and war profiteer. L3 manufactures the communications devices and systems used by the military and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as providing intelligence personnel to Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. SDSer John Cronan said, “L3 is one the biggest profiteers. Their work includes torture and suffering for the Iraq people and American soldiers.”

Despite a steady downpour, the spirited action was not dampened as chants of “L3, Hey, Hey, How many people have you killed today”, and “L3, You can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.” rang out in front of the companies 3rd Avenue offices. Several students blocked the entrance, hoisting signs that read, “While L3 is buying, Iraqi’s are dying” and “No War for L3 Profit” “L3: Over One Million Deaths, Still Making a Killing. Several others were able to gain access through the offices revolving doors, effectively occupying them and locking down the entrance.

A sign of the times
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

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Posted by Frida Berrigan - | News

A war resister is dragged away from the IRS by Homeland Security (FPS)
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Washington, DC – March 19, 2008. We had a great action on Wednesday! The War Resisters League march from McPherson Square to the IRS got off to a late start. But the Rude Mechanical Orchestra was worth the wait. The Bread and Puppet banners were held high above the street and (when they were not getting tangled in Washington’s trees) were beautiful. WRLers handed out probably one thousand pie charts along the route.

The media was out in force, literally waiting for activists to get to the IRS. A forest of TV antennas.

The police were waiting at the main entrance. They had done our work for us, blocking the entrance there. But they had left the side entrance completely open. So people blocked both sides. For about an hour, the group (maybe 100 people) chanted and sang along with Rude Mechanical as the IRS headquarters was surrounded by “war crime scene tape.”

Media coverage included: a quote from Ed Hedemann in the Washington Post; a quote from me in the Washington Times; and a good Reuters article. There were lots of radio interviews, excellent television coverage and streaming video on the internet. We also got snarky, sarcastic, annoying media. Dana Milbank needs a cynicism removal procedure. a little hope intervention. His article is not as bad as his little “video”.

The demo, in addition to all of its other successes, provided a chance to talk about war tax resistance and the other “tools” that are in our tool box to resist the war.

Thirty two people were arrested at the IRS. Many among them were from the NYC WRL local. WRL National Committee members Rick Bickhart were also arrested, along with Code Pink and Brooklyn for Peace friends, a Methodist minister who had flown up from Austin Texas, a high school teacher from Brooklyn and two of his friends, college students from Umass in Amherst, MA, and others.

Arrestees had a long day of waiting and being handcuffed in various places. About half the group was released before 6pm, and the rest were out by 10pm. No one was held over night. Two people– Amy Melnick and Torie Field (a woman from Providence, RI) refused to “post and forfeit” and they have a court date in Washington on April 8th.

We made war tax resistance part of the fifth “anniversary” story. We were serious and committed and our message was easy to understand.

It was a good day.

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David McReynolds at the Left Forum
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

New York, NY – March 16, 2008. NLN had a presence at this year’s Left Forum in NYC. Held at Cooper Union, the event drew a number of interesting figures from the Left including David McReynolds, Lynne Stewart and a group of fired up SDSers. NLN covered three panels: an antiwar organizing panel with long time war resister David McReynolds; a fascinating look at the “American Police State” with civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart and former SDS National Secretary Clark Kissinger, and; a panel on building a “Revolutionary Student Movement” with Pat Korte, Rachel Haut and Dave Shukla. Click on the link below to access video clips and photos.

Lynne Stewart discusses the use of torture by law enforcement
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

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Posted by Alice Embree - | News

Author Eve Ensler in Special Austin Production of Vagina Monologues

(Photo: Alice Embree / MDS Austin)

Austin, TX – March 15, 2008. Vagina Monologues author, Eve Ensler, participated in a special performance in Austin on Friday, March 14, 2008. Austin supported three productions, including one in Spanish, to mark the tenth anniversary of V-Day. The play has become a global catalyst in the movement to stop violence against women.

The Friday performance was particularly poignant with its focus on women in the US military who have been sexually assaulted and raped by fellow soldiers. According to Department of Defense statistics, one in three women in the military will be raped during their military service.

Friday’s production, organized by Sascha Tunney, drew several hundred to an outdoor venue called the Enchanted Forest. It raised funds for the Katrina Warriors Network, the Service Women’s Action Network and the Settlement Home for Children.

Five women spoke Friday about sexual assault and rape in the military – Dorothy Mackey and April Fitzsimmons, US Air Force, Suzanne Swift, US Army, with her mother, Sara Rich, and Ann Wright. Col. Wright spent 29 years in the Army and was one of three US diplomats who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq. She is well known to many Austinites who spent time at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas.

Under the South Austin trees, musicians Carolyn Wonderland and Patrice Pike began the show. There were celebratory chocolate vagina pops and vagina stickers. In contrast, tables at the entrance struck a somber note, offering resources to victims of domestic violence. The monologues brought laughs and tears to the audience. The vagina stories of discovery, pleasure, brutality, and birth have moved millions around the world to take action to stop violence against women. On April 12, Eve Ensler will participate in a V-Day production in New Orleans.

Posted by TAG - | News

New York, NY – March 15, 2008. Next Left Notes, founded in March of 2004, celebrated its birthday with a print edition. Just in time for the Left Forum and the March 19th protests, NLN Volume 1, Number 1 was made available in both printed and pdf versions. As always NLN is free.

Download Print Edition (pdf)

Posted by Thorne Dreyer - March 22, 2008 | News

A Thousand Spirited Protesters Fill Streets of Austin
Second-line Style Musical Parade Protests Iraq War

(Photo: Nancy Simons / MDS Austin)

Austin, TX — March 15, 2008. On a balmy Saturday afternoon in Austin, Texas – the little sweet spot in the hilly heart of the Lone Star State – more than 1,000 musicians and peace activists gathered at the Texas State Capitol building, then snaked through the streets of downtown Austin and descended on City Hall for a three hour peace jam and concert, all in protest of the war in Irag on this, the fifth anniversary of the invasion.

Musicians, some on foot and others performing from floats, makeshift trains and art cars, played tubas and trumpets and bagpipes and drums. Groups of strolling guitarists strummed and sang, “We ain’t gonna study war no more.” Waves of demonstrators stretched for blocks – young people and old, students and Iraq vets and old hippies, with dogs and children, carried banners, waved signs and danced in the streets. One young man carried a placard proclaiming “The Beginning is Near!”

The Million Musicians March, from noon-4 p.m on Saturday, March 15, 2008, was organized by Instruments for Peace and endorsed by 15 other peace and justice groups from the area, including the Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), CodePink and The Crawford Peace House, known for its anti-war vigils near President Bush’s ranch. The march was part of the monthly national Iraq Moratorium activities in opposition to the Bush’s Middle East occupation.

Led by the Jericho Marching Brass Band, who were joined by other musicians in traditional second-line fashion, they chanted and boogied down Austin’s famed Sixth Street strip, past blocks of bars and music venues where tourists and musicians packed the sidewalks. The crowds, in town for South by Southwest, Austin’s annual mega music fest, waved and flashed peace signs. And many joined the parade.

[South by Southwest is a massive yearly talent showcase and festival that this year has brought over 1,700 bands from all over the world and thousands of music aficionados to the streets and venues of Austin. Live music is shouting out from every conceivable club and hall in this music-crazed town, and from virtually any outdoor space large enough to accommodate a makeshift stage. This week’s SXSW has been highlighted by a showcase performance from the resurgent R.E.M. and a keynote speech by Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed.]

At Austin City Hall hundreds filled temporary bleachers to enjoy the music of Carolyn Wonderland, Barbara K (formerly of Timbuk 3), event prime mover Richard Bowden and other activist/musicians. And to mingle with friends, pick up literature and anti-war buttons, and buy silk-screened t-shirts, “Bring the Troops Home Now” yard signs and “Pets for Peace” dog tags.

Instruments for Peace is an Austin-based network of musicians who work with grass-roots activist organizations “in support of peace, justice and sustainability worldwide.” And, they say, “to have an effect on public dialogue.” To help create a “spin machine for truth.”

This year’s Million Musicians March is the latest sign of an increasingly energized peace and justice movement in Austin, long known as a center for progressive politics and alternative culture.

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