Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gonzales is coming! Gonzales is coming!

The WashU Student Union has decided to pay $30,000 to disgraced former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to speak at WashU on Feb. 19.

I'll have a bit more to say later, but for now the take-home message from the Student Union is that even though this event might be "controversial" it's worth it because it builds our university's 'prestige'. This, judging from the below video clip, makes us not quite as "prestigious" as the University of Florida, who managed to contribute to Gonzales's defense fund bills before we did:

We decided at the last meeting that the Peace Coalition will be protesting this insult to democracy. Anyone have any ideas from the video or otherwise?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This Week in Peace and Social Justice (11-15-2007)

War With Iran

We must take action to stop the march to war with Iran! And, Now! Attached to this email is a PDF document prepared by CASMII entitled “Twenty Reasons Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran.” It is long, but it is a must read! We need to counter the propaganda that is coming from the Bush Administration before the U.S. gets led into another war under false pretenses. Also please sign the ‘Stop War with Iran’ petition at Peace Action.

The Surge is Working!!! Hmmm, actually, not really…

Please be very skeptical of the recent claims that Bush’s Surge is working. There are a couple of problems with this claim. First, as in the past, the statistical methods that the military uses are always suspect (see the second article below). It is notoriously easy to manipulate statistical analysis. Secondly, as the first article below reveals, probably the primary reason that a drop in overall violence may have occurred is the major demographic shift that has happened over the past few years in Iraq: Baghdad has been completely religiously segregated; thousands have been killed; and millions have fled the country and are now living as refugees in surrounding countries.

Iraqi Government: “Don’t Extend Mandate for Bush’s Occupation”

“The United Nations Security Council, with support from the British and American delegations, is poised to cut the Iraqi parliament out of one of the most significant decisions the young government will make: when foreign troops will depart. It's an ugly and unconstitutional move, designed solely to avoid asking an Iraqi legislature for a blank check for an endless military occupation that it's in no mood to give, and it will make a mockery of Iraq's nascent democracy…As far back as the middle of 2004, more than nine out of 10 Iraqis said the U.S.-led forces were "occupiers," and only 2 percent called them "liberators." Things have only gone downhill since then.” “While the Bush administration frequently invokes sunny visions of spreading democracy and "freedom" around the world, the fact remains that democracy is incompatible with its goals in Iraq.”

Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu Likens Israel to Apartheid Regime

Anti-Apartheid leader Desmond Tutu called for the end of the Israeli “occupation of Palestinian territory” and said that demeaning and inhumane practices of demolition of Palestinian homes and endless check points reminded him of South Africa under the Apartheid Regime.

Gap, Mattel, Speedo, and Wal-Mart Products Linked to Child and Sweatshop Labor in China and India

The title says it all. Please do not shop at these places or buy their products! (Thanks go to my friend Mark Zaegel for this article)

The New Faceless Wars: Bombing Afghanistan (and Iraq)

U.S.-supported President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has called on the U.S. to stop the air strikes. In Afghanistan this year, U.S. forces have killed as many innocent civilians as the insurgent forces. Why so many air strikes? First, because the U.S. forces are stretched thin and don’t have as many troops to secure Afghanistan as is needed, and secondly, it reduces U.S. causalities when we bomb instead of sending in troops to an area—never mind the fact that we may kill dozens of innocent civilians in the process. This same tactic is also used in Iraq. (Thanks go to my friend Mark Zaegel again for this article).

The American Dream vs. The American Reality

More staggering statistics on poverty and inequality in America: “Just 1 percent of Americans currently hold about half the financial wealth of the entire United States. Meanwhile, notes Washington University sociologist Mark Rank, the nation' s bottom 60 percent hold less than 1 percent of that wealth, and 75 percent of Americans, sometime in their adult lives, can now expect to ‘experience a year either in poverty or near poverty.’ If the United States keeps to its present course, Rank predicted last week at an insight-rich national conference on inequality in North Carolina, the nation could "begin to reflect the bifurcation patterns more typical of third-world countries," with the privileged opting to ‘physically separate themselves from the middle and bottom.’”

Friday, November 9, 2007

St. Louis Activism Map

Check it out here!

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School of the Americas Podcast!

So WashU's Amnesty Chapter had a cool School of the Americas event last night with Marilyn Lorenz of the St. Louis Interfaith Committee on Latin America as a speaker. She talked about the history of the SOA and of the annual protests outside of the training facilities in Georgia. Thanks to the amazing Peter Jones, you can listen to a podcast here.

Once you get sufficiently ticked off about the U.S.'s meddling in Latin America, go here to take action by telling your congressperson to vote no on the Peru Free Trade Agreement.

And of course, don't forget the event mentioned in the above flier at Mokabe's.

Update: We now have a podcast for the SOA Event at Mokabe's (thanks again Peter).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Question of the Week

How do you think we can get people on campus more involved in the anti-war movement?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Understanding Iran: To Bomb or To Talk

By HENRY J. WATERS III, Publisher, Columbia Daily Tribune
Published Sunday, November 4, 2007

I spent a pleasant hour with a sprightly lady named Fatemeh Keshavarz, an Americanized native of Iran and professor at Washington University who is on a book tour trying to explain to Americans that we have a better chance to get along with her country than we might think.
She told our reporter Iranians are not terrorists seeking to use nuclear weapons against America and most don’t support President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

She’s on a campaign to soften talk of military action against her country, not because she hopes for some sort of victory for Iran and defeat for the United States. Quite the opposite: In her book "Jasmine and Stars, Reading more than Lolita in Tehran," she contradicts the notion women in Iran are oppressed. Instead, she says, many are actively fighting for liberation, and the combative Iranian president suffers from low public approval ratings in the George W. Bush range.

She objects to the language used by antagonists on both sides, such as the label "Axis of Evil," thrown out by Bush.

"Speak about the world around you in a different way," Keshavarz said. "Begin to think about the world in a different way. When you hear the same phrases over and over, it closes the possibilities." (click here to read the rest of this article...)

An Ode to America: The World Will Dare to Love You

By: Fatemeh Keshavarz

Fatemeh Keshavarz is Professor and Chair of the Washinton University Department of Asian & Near Eastern Languages & Literatures. She is the author of Jasmine and Stars: Reading more than Lolita in Tehran, and writes a regular email newsletter, Windows on Iran. She read this poem at the No War, No Warming rally in downtown St. Louis on October 20, 2007.

Your tall buildings, the night’s reachable stars
Your vast supermarkets, neat flower shops
Your brightly colored fast cars on gliding highways
Your big guns
They all work

And yet, you must understand the beauty in simple things
That’s how you started
And you must understand that
It has come, once more, to simple things
Bread and soup will save swollen bellied kids from vultures
And shoes will help boys and girls caught in permanent wars
To hold onto their dream of walking to safety
For bare feet, no one can go far

Why scratch the face of the earth? (your own face)
Why be mighty?
When you can be married to amazement
Inviting, intriguing, the world’s light in so many ways

The war is over
It has to be
For soon there will be no peace left for anyone,
Or anyone left to look for peace

The world dares to love you
When you come with your feet humble
And your hands bare, not rifled

The world remembers how to speak
When you turn off the roaring guns
The world, with the people in it walking tall, olive-skinned, and able
Dancing in the vastness of daylight
To the rhythm of flowers bursting open – not bombs
Flowers, giddy with their own scent
The world dancing to the drumbeat of small unknown hearts

Everyone, is always a bit like you…and all the while like themselves

See them!See the suns that rise in their wake
Shedding warmth onto your long winters, the earth’s winters

Let the birds of words – loud and surprising
Take off in large numbers from your fields
As if wild lupines were growing in the palm of your hands

Not words that poison the joy of the unknown
But words that gush forth from lips and cool down
The silent wounds of anger -- like rivers in seasons of drought

Face the eastern horizon sometimes and listen
For the music of a distinct laughter

Do not steel your glance
If you come with your feet humble
And your hands bare, not rifled

The world will dare to love you.