SPC Pages

Compiled by Andy Mager

The War on Iraq Isn’t Over
The people of Iraq understand clearly that neither the war, nor the challenges they face are over. The Peace Council continues its efforts to educate the local public about the US occupation of Iraq and is pushing the Bush administration to come clean about the reasons for going to war. Over 800 Central New Yorkers have signed our petition calling on Congress to establish an independent commission to investigate whether the Bush administration fabricated or manipulated evidence that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq. A new SPC study group on the US global agenda held its first meeting in late August. Contact Carol Baum or Jessica Maxwell.

The trials for local activists arrested trying to obstruct the war on Iraq also aren’t over. On September 11, 2003, at 9:30 am, the 16 peaceful demonstrators arrested during an anti-war rally at the federal building on January 15 (Martin Luther King’s birthday) will stand trial in Syracuse city court. Supporters are welcome to come. Contact Jessica Maxwell for more information.

Our “Man” in Iraq
Longtime Peace Council activist Ed Kinane returned to Iraq on August 21 to resume his work with Voices in the Wilderness <www.vitw.org>. Ed was in Baghdad for two months with Voices before, during and after the US invasion this past spring.
Ed will monitor the US military occupation and report back about what he sees. Look for regular reports in the PNL and the SPC website <www.peacecouncil.net>.

Opposing the Bush/Cheney Agenda
Speak Up: The Bush Agenda and You is the title of a Town Meeting scheduled for late October. It is the result of an emerging coalition of groups brought together by the Peace Council. Organizational endorsements and support for the event are being sought at the same time as details are finalized. The event will begin with short presentations by representatives of a variety of local community groups about how they have been negatively affected by the Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft/Wolfowitz agenda. There will also be time for individuals to “speak up” and for informal networking after the formal program ends. Please get your union local, neighborhood group or faith community to support this effort. Contact Andy Mager or Jessica Azulay.

Local Youth Violence
SPC staff and volunteers have facilitated workshops on violence, nonviolence and youth empowerment at the Northeast and Southwest Community Centers. A program is currently underway with youth at Rolling Green Estates on the Eastside of Syracuse. Bikes 4 Youth! conducted bicycle clinics at the Westcott and Northeast Community Centers this summer. See page 17 for more information. Contact Andy Mager or Jessica Maxwell.

September 11-14
Activists around the world will hold educational events and actions in response to the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting occurring September 10-14 (see page 11 for more information). SPC is sponsoring a film on globalization Thursday, September 11th, 7 pm at the Westcott Community Center (WCC).
Unsure of what, if anything, we should do to commemorate 9/11, we found that it was the only weekday night in early September available at the WCC. Upon reflection, the film and discussion seemed like an appropriate commemoration. Iraq was a victim of Bush’s “war on terrorism,” and is now falling victim to the International Monetary Fund (see page 15). US militarism and corporate globalization are two sides of the same coin.

On September 12 and 13, Rochester activists are hosting a “Social Forum” to explore alternatives to corporate globalization and militarism. Carpooling is available from SPC on the 13th. Then on September 14th, SPC will present a tableau on globalization during the Westcott Street Fair. Contact Carol Baum or Jessica Maxwell.

Rocked by Rokke
Major Doug Rokke left an audience of some 80 Central New Yorkers unsettled by his presentation about the US government’s callous disregard for the damage caused by its uranium munitions. Rokke spoke in Syracuse on July 24 as part of a regional speaking tour.
Dr. Rokke, the former Director of the US Army Depleted Uranium (DU) Project, was given the mission to clean up the depleted uranium contamination left from Gulf War I. In his words, “I’m just trying to complete my mission.” Unfortunately, despite tremendous sickness and death on the part of both US soldiers and Iraqi civilians exposed to these highly toxic materials, the US government seeks to evade all responsibility for the devastation.
When the Gulf War started, Rokke was assigned to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare, and sent to the Gulf. What he experienced has inspired him to speak out passionately for government accountability.
For further background information on uranium weapons, see “Canaries in the Mineshaft” (June 2003 PNL, <www.peacecouncil.net/721/721_ToxicWeaponry.htm>).

The Peace Council, Peace Action and Citizens Awareness Network are following up on Rokke’s visit. We encourage you to contact Rep. Jim Walsh asking him to support the Depleted Uranium Munitions Study Act of 2003 (H.R. 1483). No similar bill has been presented in the Senate, so Sens. Clinton and Schumer should be asked to introduce similar legislation. We are also arranging presentations with community groups and house meetings using the powerful video “Hidden Wars.” To arrange a showing, or to lend a hand, contact Andy Mager.

Hiroshima Procession on August 6
Although it received limited media attention, the annual Hiroshima procession managed to stir up some controversy. An exchange of letters in the Post-Standard addressed the question of whether the bombing was necessary to “save lives” and bring World War II to a close.
A thunderstorm and some logistical problems delayed the start of the procession, but as usual the solemn tone of the bass drum and the dramatic puppets created a hush through downtown Syracuse. People who see the procession can’t help but wonder why this is a solemn day. Over 500 informational fliers were distributed along the march route.
At the vigil, Akira Sanbonmatsu described some of his experiences during three years in the detention camps set up for Japanese-Americans and spoke of the need to eliminate nuclear weapons. Tim Judson made the connection between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, including the issue of uranium weaponry (see “Rokke” above) and Jeanne DeSocio read a statement from Dr. Rafil Dhafir who remains imprisoned in Syracuse for the crime of supplying humanitarian aid to Iraq.

Weekly Peace Vigils
The Tuesday Peace Vigil energizes me. It is an oasis of peaceful dissent. The vigil allows the Peace Council to maintain a public presence that says, “there is much work to be done to take back the country for citizens,” and gives me a forum to express my political energy.
-Dave Griola

Every Tuesday from 4:45 – 5:30 pm.
• Sept. 2 - Onondaga Rd. and W. Genesee St. (Camillus)
• Sept. 9 - Teall Ave. & Rt. 690 (Eastside)
• Sept. 16 - Adams St. and Rt. 81 (Downtown)
• Sept. 23 - James Street and Thompson Rd. (Northside)
• Sept. 30 - Rt. 57, Village of Liverpool (near skating rink)

Compelling Theater to Benefit SPC
See a great show and benefit the Peace Council. SPC is selling tickets to a Syracuse Stage performance of Constant Star, a play about fearless turn of the 20th century civil rights activist and journalist Ida B. Wells. Wells organized the first anti-lynching campaign in America. Writer and director Tazewell Thompson, former artistic director of the Stage, weaves in 20 classic spirituals sung a cappella in five-part harmony by the actresses portraying her life. SPC has tickets for Saturday, November 15 at 3 pm, at a cost of $28 each, which includes a reception afterwards. More details for how to obtain the tickets will be forthcoming. Contact Carol Baum.

Peace Council Tables Far and Wide
On Saturday, August 16 the Peace Council set a record, with tables at four events on the same day: Regional Market, Latin American Festival, Tully Community Fair and Grassroots Rising (an Adirondack peace festival). Tabling at community events continues to be a valuable form of outreach for the Peace Council and a way to make a little money. There are many tabling opportunities in September and October. We’re in the process of forming a new Outreach Committee to coordinate this work. To get involved contact Andy Mager.

We Want You to Volunteer
The Peace Council depends on volunteers. Our September Volunteer Orientation—Monday, September 15, 7-8:30 pm—will have a special focus on helping with the Peace Newsletter (please come if you’re interested in other volunteer work as well).
Current volunteer needs include: office workers, tabling helpers, PNL graphics editor, PNL Distribution Coordinator, and more.

House Challenges and Opportunities
We realized recently that we’ve got serious roof problems on our house. Volunteer Gary Bonaparte patched it temporarily, but it’s going to be a big expense before winter. On a positive note, the Syracuse Cultural Workers have offered to donate their former home on East Fayette St. to the Peace Council. The Steering Committee is considering how to proceed. If you have ideas, or want to help with carpentry/fix-up work, contact Andy Mager.

A Sad Departure
Karen Hall has recently resigned from the SPC Steering Committee due to a lack of time. Her departure creates a hole there and on our Personnel Committee. Karen’s insight and wit will be missed. Her continued work as SPC bookkeeper is greatly appreciated.

SPC Advisory Committee in Formation
The Peace Council is in the process of forming an Advisory Committee to assist the Steering Committee and staff in guiding the organization. We expect this new organizational component will help to:
• Increase SPC’s profile in Central New York
• Develop stronger organizational links with natural allies in the labor, civil rights, feminist, LGBT, environmental, global justice, student and other social movements
• Allow people who support the Peace Council’s work but are too busy for regular commitments to assist SPC through their thinking and connections in the community
• Increase the diversity of those who influence the direction and work of SPC
• Boost fund-raising and outreach work by developing broader contacts in the community.