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Why We Were Arrested
Yesterday afternoon, as I tried to make my middle aged bones accommodate the uncompromising metal cot in my jail cell on the men’s block of the Cambridge police station, I found old New England and national history floating through my mind. During the 1848 U.S. invasion of Mexico, Emerson had asked Throreau, (who had refused to pay war taxes), what he was doing in jail. And, as we learned in school, Thoreau’s response was what was Emerson doing outside the bars.

Many of my friends and colleagues from the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker-based peace, justice, reconciliation and development organization, had joined a peaceful protest on the city’s centuries old common. Two of us, a photographer friend, and four younger activists ended up in the slammer.

What happened? Last Thursday evening, a friend called with news that it had just been announced that a Blackhawk helicopter, the Under Secretary of the Army and a lot of other military hullabaloo would be descending on Cambridge Common, ostensibly to celebrate the Army’s 230th anniversary. Interestingly, the Army hadn’t bothered to show up to celebrate the 200th or 225th anniversaries!) What the military, desperate for recruits, had in mind was an extravaganza to reignite its sagging recruitment efforts. Finding it nearly impossible to recruit young men and women to kill and to die as occupiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military was anxious to gin up its system. By coming to Cambridge, after years of being unwanted here, the military wanted to show that it was on the offensive. The piece de resistance would come at night with the televised induction of new army recruits in Fenway Park, the home of the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Had Leni Riefenstahl risen from the dead to produce more military propaganda?
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16 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Human Rights : International
Opinion: America's Corporate Benedict Arnolds
BENDICT.jpg“That’s un-American” is the cry heard whenever the unwritten code of American values is breached, Compassion, fairness and equal opportunity are hallmarks, and although you might not be able to recite chapter and verse of the code, you know when it is broken.

On this the 204th anniversary of the death of Benedict Arnold, one of America’s most famous traitors, it’s time to consider whether some of America’s largest corporations that pay little or no federal taxes, have indeed become traitors.

Large corporations are in full retreat from paying their fair share of taxes. In 2003, corporations paid just 7% of the cost of the US government, according to a study by Citizens for Tax Justice.

It wasn’t always this way. At the end of the Second World War, a time when paying taxes was viewed as a patriotic duty, corporations paid half the cost of the federal government. Even as recently as the 1970s, corporate taxes accounted for 20% of federal treasury receipts.
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16 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Politics : Social Welfare
Opposition Mounts to "NAFTA Superhighway" I-69
I-69Logo.gifThe U.S. government is currently poised to roll out a new strip of asphalt all the way from Loredo, Texas up to Port Huron, Michigan. Interstate 69, if completed, will stretch over 2000 miles, through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Michigan.

The main purpose of this interstate is to provide a channel for trading goods between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. It would act as a piece of the life-support system for the North American Free Trade Agreement (or NAFTA) and, if enacted, the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Some are calling it the “NAFTA Superhighway”.
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13 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : Human Rights : Labor
Somerville 5 Case: Community Leaders Demand that Charges Against Five African-American Youth be Dropped
somerville5.jpg“Are we going backwards?”

This was the question asked at a June 5 news conference in Dorchester, Mass., held to publicize the demand that five Somerville African American youths be immediately reinstated as students at Somerville High School near Boston and that trumped-up police charges against them be dropped.

The Somerville 5—Calvin Belfon, 17, Cassius Belfon, 15, Earl Guerra, 16, Isiah Anderson, 17, and Marquis Anderson, 16—were victims of racial profiling and a brutal, unprovoked attack by Medford police on April 20. The five have been indefinitely suspended from school. And they face false charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, assault and battery, and disorderly conduct.
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09 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Race
Chokehold on Hebron: A Letter from Palestine
290012.jpgA letter from Molly Little, Rhode Island peace activist, who is spending her summer as a witness to the Isreali occupation of Palestine.

May 26, 2005- It is midday on the main street of Hebron. Just moments ago we were surrounded by the sounds and smells of the market— coffee and spices, kids on bikes and men pushing carts of produce, people buying groceries. Now, quite suddenly, the place is silent. The stores are boarded up; the streets are deserted. Where once this section, like the rest of Hebron, bustled with the daily life of families, now the only sounds we hear are the footsteps of the six Israeli soldiers who follow us as we walk. Occasionally their rifles click against their belts, but we know better than to turn around, or to appear afraid. It is our Palestinian guide, a small, wizened man whom we met at a hostel in Jerusalem, who ought to be afraid. But he leads the way for us—three Americans who are here to try to understand life under occupation— without looking back.
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09 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Human Rights : International
Anti-racists block neo-Nazi march
antinazi.jpgHundreds of anti-racist protesters came out here May 8 to protest a planned march and rally by the neo-Nazi organization “White Revolution.” This vile group of bigots, based in Arkansas, had intended to hold a rally at the New England Holocaust Memorial to coincide with the annual Holo caust commemoration.

The anti-Nazi demonstration was organized on short notice by a number of organizations and community leaders, including Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner; the International Action Center; USWA Local 8751, Boston School Bus Drivers; Bromley Heath workers; Women’s Fightback Network; International Socialist Organization and many others.

Chanting “Gay, straight, Black, white—all unite to fight the right” as well as chants against racism, anti-Semitism, Zionism, sexism and LGBT bigotry, the demonstrators held a militant and loud protest in front of Faneuil Hall, adjacent to the memorial. Protesters were Black, Latin@, Asian, Arab, white, young and old. They included a large number of anarchist youth, as well as supporters of the Pales tinian people who made it clear that their opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestine has nothing in common with the vicious anti-Semitism of the neo-Nazis.

When a small group of racists tried to enter the protest area, they were quickly surrounded by angry demonstrators and forced to flee in the back seat of a police car.Memorial to coincide with the annual Holo caust commemoration.
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16 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights
Living in the Shadows: Undocumented Children Strive to Succeed
P905daughter.jpgAs an immigrant, Araceli has a hard time feeling like she belongs. She fled social unrest in Guatemala with her family when she was only five years old, speaks English better than Spanish, but has been forced to live in the fringes of society because she is considered illegal. “I’ve been here for sixteen years. I consider myself an American,” she said.

The first time she found out about her status was when she tried to apply for college and was told the benefit of a higher education did not apply to her. One year after graduating from high school with a 3.5 GPA and unable to work legally in this country, she feels uneasy about her future. “Put your self in my shoes. I want an education and a career,” she said.
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09 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Education : Globalization : Human Rights : Labor
Hate Crime Alleged on Tufts Campus
stophatewhbg.jpgRiyadh Mohammed 20, an Economics Major in his Junior year at Tufts University, alleges that he was attacked by three fraternity brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon in front of their frat house early Saturday morning. He claims he was beaten unconscious, and subjected to a chain of racist epithets. Police confirm that he was in need of medical attention after the incident.

Never one to hold back his opinions, president of the Arab Students Association at the school, and one who friends say, “puts the fact that he is an Arab out there.” Mohammed is proud of who he is.
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03 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Race
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