compiled by Ginger Weigand
Anti-War Activists Reclaim Dr. Kings
On January 16, a day after citizens booed a wreath-laying President Bush at the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., peace groups launched an inspiring internet Flash movie that reveals just how out-of-sync the White House is with Dr. Kings message of peace and love.
The internet Flash movie excerpts Dr. Kings April 4, 1967 speech at Riverside Church in New York City and overlays his words with images from the Vietnam War and the current Iraq War. A Tupac Shakur song provides musical background. Over images of war abroad and poverty at home, Dr. Kings voice tells viewers: A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
The film was produced by Global Exchange, Code Pink: Women for Peace, Black Voices for Peace, and United for Peace and Justice. It can be viewed at <www.unitedforpeace.org>.
Global Activists Gather to Change the World
The fourth World Social Forum (WSF) opened in Mumbai, India on January 16. Close to 100,000 people attended to hear Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and Indian novelist and political activist Arundhati Roy. Participants from 132 countries will participate in the week-long agenda, which includes 200 seminars, debates and discussions with titles such as: Deepening Democracy, Global Governance and the Nation State and Voices of Disabled Children.
We are here to make the point that revolution is the only solution to the worlds problems, said Kim Snghyun, from the group Globalization from Below. Indian lawyer Anil Kumar Mittal says WSFs significance is to bring attention to the abuse taking place under the name of globalization. Juan Tuyuc, from Platforma Agraria, Guatemala hopes the WSF will, show the North that a strategy to eliminate poverty is urgent. Mustapha Hauwa of the Nigeria Labour Congress also wants to see action beyond Mumbai, Civil society groups from Third World countries must begin to figure out practical ways to change the world [since they] are the ones involved with the communities who are the victims of globalization.
Iraq War Whistleblower
Katharine Gun, a former translator at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, England, is accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act by allegedly leaking details of a secret US dirty tricks operation to spy on UN Security Council members in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. If found guilty, she faces two years in prison. The leaked memorandum - dated 31 January 2003 - requested British intelligence help to learn the voting intentions of the key swing six nations at the UN: Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Chile, Mexico and Pakistan.
Legal experts believe that her case is potentially explosive, because it could allow her defense team to raise questions about the legality of military intervention in Iraq. Gun stated that any possible disclosures were made because they exposed serious illegality and wrongdoing on the part of the US government who attempted to subvert our own security services, and to prevent wide-scale death and casualties among ordinary Iraqi people and UK forces in the course of an illegal war.
FORD: Holding America Hostage to Oil
On January 8, human rights and environmental activists with Global Exchange and Rainforest Action Network rappelled down a 32-story skyscraper near the Los Angeles Auto Show and unfurled a giant banner reading, Ford: Holding America Hostage to Oil. The banner was unfurled as people were entering the show. Three activists were arrested and charged with trespass.
A typical Ford vehicle on the road today gets fewer miles per gallon than the Model-T did 80 years ago, said Jason Mark, Clean Car Campaigner with the human rights group Global Exchange. A national coalition of more than 80 public interest organizations are calling on Ford to double the fuel economy of its vehicles by 2010 and eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2020. For more information, visit <www.jumpstartford.com>.
On December 15, the grand opening of the Smithsonian Institutes new Air and Space Museum, 100 people went to the museum to show their shame and disgust at the prideful display of the Enola Gay. The display is devoid of any information about the bomb the plane carried and its effects - the deaths in one day of 140,000 Japanese.
We filed into the building as tourists and gathered around the offensive exhibit at 11am, at which time banners and posters appeared in everyones hands, with messages in English and Japanese and photos of Hiroshima and the devastation wrought by the bomb. When Art Laffin began reading a prepared statement, police quickly came to take him away and tear banners and pictures from peoples hands. In the midst of the commotion, a glass bottle of red paint was thrown from above, hit the plane, then fell to the floor and shattered. We learned later that Tom Siemer was the actor of this theatrical addition. He was arrested and taken to Fairfax County Jail. As Tom emerged from the police car at the station, he suffered a heart attack and was taken immediately to Fairfax Hospital. He will face charges after he heals.