SPC Pages

compiled by Andy Mager

“Post-Invasion” Programming
Over the past few months, several new Peace Council projects have been under development. Significant progress is being made on all four areas outlined in the June PNL. People power remains critical to the success of these efforts (that means you).

Opposing the Bush/Cheney Agenda: A second meeting of activists from diverse Central New York groups was held as the PNL went to press. The goal is to create a broad and powerful local movement to promote an agenda based on human needs, equality and peace. The first public action is expected to be a Town Meeting in the fall. Contact Andy Mager or Jessica Azulay.

Iraq Followup and US Foreign Policy: A first meeting was held to organize SPC’s response to the occupation of Iraq and the broader US global agenda. Initial efforts will focus on education and outreach. A study group is forming. No experience necessary. Contact Carol Baum or Jessica Maxwell.

Demand the Truth!
We have initiated a petition campaign calling on Congress to establish an independent commission to investigate whether the Bush administration fabricated or manipulated evidence used to justify the invasion of Iraq. If you’re a subscriber, please circulate the enclosed petition. If not, call the office or see our website for a copy.

Local Youth Violence: A series of workshops on violence, nonviolence and youth empowerment is near completion at the Teen Center at the Northeast Community Center. We hope to continue this work at other youth venues. Bikes for Youth! is a program designed to support young people’s involvement in positive recreation by helping them learn to fix their bicycles. The program is being conducted with the Westcott Community Center and the Northeast Community center. Contact Andy Mager or Jessica Maxwell.

Vision and Strategy Work: Eleven people attended the first meeting of a study/discussion group exploring the question, “If another world is possible, what does it look like and how do we get there?” The group hopes to be a forum for dialogue and learning about diverse strategies and visions for social change. Anyone interested in discussing how to create an economic system that places human need above monetary profit, and establishes relationships among people based on cooperation rather than competition or the threat of destruction is welcome. Contact Carol or Jessica Azulay.

Radioactive Weapons Expert to Speak
“Poisoning Soldiers and Civilians: The Health and Environmental Effects of Uranium Munitions” is the title of a speech by Major Doug Rokke on Thursday, July 24, 7:30 pm, at May Memorial Unitarian Society, 3800 E. Genesee St. in Syracuse.
Major Rokke is the former Director of the US Army Depleted Uranium (DU) Project where he worked as a health physicist on DU education and clean-up during the Gulf War. When the Gulf War started, he was sent to the Gulf to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare. His experiences made him a passionate voice for peace, traveling the country to speak out.
He became a whistle-blower, revealing the policies of the US Army that exposed troops and civilians to DU and other toxic compounds. He speaks and writes extensively on this issue, appearing throughout the US, Europe and Australia. He has appeared on “60 Minutes” and documentaries related to DU.
The US fired about 944,000 DU rounds in the Gulf War, contaminating the Gulf region with 300-400 tons of DU in 1991. At the end of the Gulf War the total US casualty count was 760: 294 dead, a little over 400 wounded or ill. But the casualty rate is now approximately 30 percent for all those who served in the Gulf War. Of those stationed in the theater, including after the conflict, 221,000 have been awarded disability, according to a Veterans Affairs (VA) report issued September 10, 2002. While there is no “proof” that DU exposure caused this health crisis, there are no other simple explanations.
Exposure among Iraqi civilians is even greater. Dr. Harry Shalimer estimates that there have been 100,000 cancers in Basra alone in the last 12 years. Depleted uranium munitions were used again in the recent war against Iraq, including new “bunker-buster” and “earth-penetrator” bombs. (For more background information, see “Canaries in the Mineshaft,” June PNL, page 11.)
Dr. Rokke’s talk is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Syracuse Peace Council, Peace Action, Citizens Awareness Network, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Pax Christi, American Friends Service Committee, Syracuse Cultural Workers and the Compassion and Advocacy Committee of the Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery.

Hiroshima Procession on August 6
For decades the Peace Council has played a major role in organizing commemorations of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. With the Bush administration looking to build a new generation of smaller “more usable” nukes, reminding Central New Yorkers of the devastating destructive power of these weapons remains important. As the Bush administration tries to duck responsibility for lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, we must raise our cry for the elimination of all such weapons—especially those of our own nation.
The annual procession will gather at 11:30 am on Wednesday, August 6 outside Plymouth Church, 242 E. Onondaga St. in downtown Syracuse. The dramatic procession mourns the destruction wrought on the people of Hiroshima and calls for a world based on cooperation, not domination. A vigil at Columbus Circle will be held after the procession wends its way through downtown Syracuse. Please consider joining us. This year’s event is co-sponsored by the Peace Council, Peace Action, Citizen’s Awareness Network and the American Friends Service Committee. For information, contact Jess Maxwell.

Bill of Rights Campaign Takes Off
For the last few months, the Peace Council has been collaborating with the Central New York chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union and many other local organizations to work towards building a city-wide campaign to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act. We are very excited to be an active part of this campaign. For more information about the Bill of Rights Defense Campaign, see the cover article. Contact Jessica Azulay or Barrie Gewanter, NYCLU, 471-2821, <cnynyclu@aol.com>.

Weekly Peace Vigils
Every Tuesday from 4:45 – 5:45 pm.
• July 22: James Street and Thompson Rd. (Northside)
• July 29: Rt. 57, Village of Liverpool (near skating rink)
• August 5: Valley Drive and Seneca Turnpike (Valley)
• August 12: Erie Blvd. W. and W. Genesee St. (Westside)
• August 19: S. Salina and E. Colvin (Southside)
• August 26: E. Genesee St. and Erie Blvd. E. (Dewitt)

Summer Work on the Office
Our front garden, donated last year by the “Garden Keeper” Dick Lewis, is absolutely lovely. The regular mowing by Herm Bieling adds to the sense that the Peace Council is active and caring well for our resources. Two newly-donated energy efficient air conditioners (from Cheri Capparelli) are helping us work effectively in the heat. We still need help with painting the outside of the house and patching walls and repainting inside. Contact Andy Mager.

3rd Permanent Staff Position
The SPC Steering Committee has added a third permanent Peace Council staff position. We are very excited that Jess Maxwell has accepted the halftime position, joining Carol Baum and Andy Mager as part of the staff collective.

Summer a Slow Time for $
Summer is a slow time for income at the Peace Council. The creation of a third permanent staff position requires increased fundraising. Consider making a special donation or offering to assist with fundraising. Contact Carol Baum.

SPC Around the Town

Small SPC contingents marched in the Juneteenth and Gay Pride Parades in Syracuse. We tabled at the Pride Festival and the Downtown Arts & Crafts Fair in late June. SPC continues to table every Saturday at the Regional Market. In the coming month we’ll be at the Lollapalooza Concert (Vernon Downs, Sat., July 26) and the Latin American Festival (Clinton Square, August 16-17). We always need assistance with these valuable outreach opportunities. Contact Andy Mager.

There’s a Place for You!

We always need volunteers for various tasks. Current openings include: office workers, tabling workers, PNL graphics editor, project volunteers, poster/banner makers and flier posterers.

Organizational Development
Over a dozen Peace Council folks spent a Sunday afternoon in late June discussing the Peace Council’s organizational structure. The creation of a formal membership structure is being considered as a way to help people feel a sense of identity with the Peace Council and increase democracy within the organization. Several committees are following up on different parts of the discussion. We would welcome your feedback or ideas. Contact Andy Mager.