Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tucson's March 18th March

I am finishing up something started the day of the march -- yesterday. I am not in top form today as I'm on my third day of a fast. I'm a bit tired and a bit grumpy... but this is a juice fast so I'm not experiencing real hunger, not the kind of hunger that so many in our war torn world live with and die from every day. It was not difficult to march yesterday while fasting as, given my generous figure, I have lots of reserves upon which I can draw.

The Tucson, Arizona observance of the 3rd Anniversary of the Iraq War began 10 a.m. yesterday (Saturday, March 18th, 2006) as the crowd of approximately 200 folks
gathered for the Peace Rally at Catalina Park at which there was music by individual artists and the Raging Grannies as well as personal statements and recollections, statements from candidates for the Arizona Senate as well as contenders for Kolbe's soon to be vacated seat, as well as spokespersons for local peace and justice groups. For me the most moving portion of the rally was when Salette Latas (see pic at left), herself an Air Force veteran, described her feelings at sending her father off to Vietnam, her husband (retired from Air Force) to the first Gulf War, her son to Iraq. She also spoke about being in Walter Reed last November on Veterans Day with her son and the other wounded soldiers while Senators and Congressional Reps were no where in sight. They were all out expressing patriotic support for war, while the soldiers who were undisputedable patriots were left to themselves in Walter Reed. That was the day her husband Jeff announced his candidacy for the AZ District 8 Congressional Seat in order to continue the family tradition of serving in a way that would not support the corporations and elite few individuals in power who benefit from war without paying any of the true costs in life and limb. She encouraged everyone to keep protesting and working to build peace.

The march itself was uneventful... the usual. With an amalgamation of people who want peace. Older people who have been in the peace movement most of their adult lives. First time marchers who have reached a critical point where they can no longer keep silent about unjust war and occupation of other countries. A few students. Some of the youthful anarchists who gravitate toward wearing black and using obscenities for reasons that are not obvious. There were Army vets (and vets from other branches too.) Political sentiments were all over the chart. There were people who seemed to not be all that comfortable protesting but felt they had to do something. There were folks holding U.S. flags "upside down." This offended some people. Others understood that this is the sign used for "distress" but were concerned that others might not know this.

The route to the Recruiting Center on Speedway was flanked by motorcycle cops but as always with a non-permitted march (permits are not an option for marches in Tucson) it is not clear that all of a sudden the officers could decide the marchers are doing something wrong. But they predominantly focused on the job of keeping cars and pedestrians separated.

The "counter-protesters" had been at the recruiting center for at least an hour before the rally had even started. Marchers vastly outnumbered the pro-war group who looked to be the same pro-war folks that demonstrate across from the weekly military recruiting protest on Wednesday mornings. The balance was at least five to one in favor of the pro-peace group by the time the march arrived at its destination. Numbers built throughout the rally and march until several blocks were filled with pro-peace folks several deep in most spots. This compared to the scattering of pro-war folks with their huge flags standing two arm lengths apart apparently to try to increase the seeming number of their group that numbered somewhere around a couple dozen. The drivers passing who chose to signal pro-peace support were in the majority making up close to 90% of the passing cars who signaled an opinion.

The pro-war group seems to truly hate the expression of viewpoints different than their own. As is often the case on Wednesdays when the groups line the opposite sides of the street, after the police left, the pro-war group had several individuals cross the street and surround and threaten the last few pro-peace demonstrators on the north side of the street. Individuals who work in the businesses on the north side of Speedway report that the pro-war people routinely cross the street and harass and attempt to intimidate the peace folks. Calls placed to the police by these workers to the police report that the police do not reign in these folks who threaten other law abiding citizens and only say that the pro-war folks say the same thing. Apparently the police are quite comfortable disregarding calls reporting harassment and intimidation of lawful peace demonstrators. This was undoubtedly the most disturbing aspect of the day. TPD officers have apparently aligned themselves, taking sides with the "pro-recruiter" folks in what certainly seems to some to be a sign of the willingness of at least some local police to participate in a police state.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Women's Web is the World's Safety Net

Maxine Frith's article in the Independent/UK is one of the most salient articles I've seen, although the title is deceptively narrow, in quite some time on the status of women and its impact on the state of the world in regard to peace and every matter.

I usually do not reprint articles in their entirity, but in this instance, this article, UN: Women Denied Representation, Making War on Poverty Hard to Win says it all, about women, peace and society.

Millions of women around the world, including those in the UK and other Western countries, are being denied effective representation because of the low numbers of female politicians, judges and employers, the United Nations has warned.

Campaigners say that unless urgent action is taken on the status of women, the Millennium Development Goals on reducing poverty, infant deaths and standards of education will not be met.

To mark International Women's Day, the UN has published a report that says rates of female participation in governments across the developed and developing world are still appallingly low. The report says that for women to be adequately represented in their country, at least 30 per cent of parliamentary seats should have a female representative.

In Britain, only 18 per cent of MPs are women, while only 8 per cent of MPs in Arab countries are female. Just 20 nations - including Rwanda, Mozambique, Guyana and Burundi - have reached or exceeded the 30 per cent mark and only three countries (Chile, Spain and Sweden) have complete gender parity in government.

Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, said: "The rate of progress overall is slow. Women are every bit as affected as any man by the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century - in economic and social development, as well as in peace and security - often they are more affected."

He added: "The world is starting to grasp that there is no policy more effective in promoting development, health and education than the empowerment of women and girls, and no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended."

United Nations figures also show that 70 per cent of the world's 1.2 billion people who are estimated to live in poverty are women and children. A woman dies every minute from complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth, and HIV rates are now rising faster among women than men. Charities say that 700 million women are living without adequate food, water, sanitation and education.

Even in the developed world, women face endemic discrimination. Full-time female workers in Japan earn just 51 per cent of the wages of their male counterparts, while only one in five managers in Italy is a woman and just 14 per cent of the seats in the US Congress are taken by women.

In a speech to mark International Women's Day in Britain, Lady Barbara Thomas Judge, who chairs the UK Atomic Energy Authority, said that girls still suffered from discrimination in schools and work. She told a conference organised by the Aurora Network for women in business that 30 years after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act in the United Kingdom, women account for half of the working population but for just one in four managers, 9 per cent of the judiciary and 10 per cent of senior police officers.

Lady Judge highlighted the fact that only 14.5 per cent of people employed in the fields of technology and engineering are women, despite evidence that when they do enter the professions, female engineers earn more than men. "Research indicates that those girls that are interested in maths and science are channelled into medicine, nursing and veterinary science because these are perceived as "caring" professions," she said.

"Girls have few role models that show that women can be engineers and there are few companies that provide work experience for women in engineering. If we are to survive as a leading nation in this global- ised world, we must utilise this country's intellectual capability to the fullest extent."

Julia Häusermann, the president of the human rights charity Rights and Humanity, said: "We have much to celebrate on International Women's Day.

"All over the world, women are making progress in political participation, economic empowerment and increased access to education. But wherever we turn, poverty, violence and Aids have a woman's face.

"The empowerment of women is the single most effective tool for development. There is increasing evidence that securing women's rights benefits not just women and their immediate families, but the wider society and national economies."

For several U.N. publications on this and closely related subjects, go to this U.N. web page.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Join the CODEPINK Fast For Peace!

CODEPINK Tucson is organizing a PROGRESSIVE FAST FOR PEACE that is taking place between today and the 3rd Anniversary of the U.S. War Against Iraq.

On their site, they list pinktucson (at) as the contact where you are supposed to send an email containing your
date you will be fasting
and your reason for fasting
to be included in their fast.

The first and last day fasters are already listed on the site. A progressive fast is a coordinated fast with many different people agreeing to fast on different days within the specified time period.

Women Delivering Global Peace Petition Roughed Up and Arrested.

I thought we had the right to petition organizations charged with our welfare. Once upon a time I guess.

This arrived this a.m. from a friend who is in D.C. for International Women's Day Actions:

Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan, who were both arrested in New York City with two other women, Missy Beattie (Gold Star Families for Peace), and Reverend Patty Ackerman, after refusing to leave the US Mission to the UN without being allowed the simple opportunity to deliver our Global Women’s Call for Peace petition. The US mission was so intimidated by a group of women with a piece of paper, that they locked the entrances to the building and called in the cops to arrest these four courageous women. The arrest was very rough and Cindy’s arm was badly pulled. The women spent the night in jail and were booked and released on Tuesday morning. Both Cindy and Medea safely arrived in DC last night in time for a large community event during which each of the Iraqi women shared their experiences in war-torn Iraq.

She also described this mornings actions,
This morning we are converging for a short breakfast before starting our day of actions for International Women’s Day. We will be creating an altar outside the Iraqi Embassy in memoriam of the lives lost in Iraq and then marching from the Iraqi Embassy to the White House where we intend to deliver our petition with over 100,000 signatures

And announced that 100,000 signatures have been reached on the Global Call for Women to say No to War!

Here is the press release about the arrests at the U.N.:

For Immediate Release: Contact: Andrea Buffa (510) 325-3653

March 4, 2006 or Ann Wright (808) 741-1141

Cindy Sheehan and Three Others Arrested While Attempting to Deliver Petition Signed by 60,000 Demanding an End to Bloodshed in Iraq

Arrests Take Place After US Mission to the UN Refused to Meet with Delegation of Women Visiting from Iraq and Gold Star Families for Peace

Today four women, including peace activist, Cindy Sheehan, were arrested at the United Nations while trying to deliver a petition with more than 60,000 signatures urging the “withdrawal all troops and all foreign fighters from Iraq.”

Arrested were: Sheehan, Gold Star Families for Peace; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace; Missy Beattie, Gold Star Families for Peace; and Rev. Patricia Ackerman.

A delegation of women from Iraq and Gold Star Families for Peace had just concluded a press conference in front of the UN calling for an end to the US occupation of Iraq. The group then marched to the US Mission to deliver a petition. The US Mission office refused to send a representative to meet with the delegation of women. The women refused to leave without delivering the signatures to someone in the US Mission’s office and were later arrested.

“I am outraged that the US Mission could not send someone down to meet with a delegation of women whose lives and families have been shattered by this destructive and immoral war,” said Ann Wright, former US Army Colonel and US diplomat. Wright was physically assaulted by security officers during the arrests.

To view full text of the petition, go to: <> .