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Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
dasani.jpgContributions from Coca-Cola and its enterprises to federal candidates and parties rose as much as 31% between 1998 and 2004, with the greatest concentration of funds during the 2000 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Seventy-one percent of those contributions, or $2,483,283, went to the Republican Party and GOP candidates. Relationships between the soft-drink giant and Bush’s chums have indeed gone sweeter since many issues affecting Coca-Cola’s assets are at stake: soda consumption in schools, environmental standards, bottled water labeling, and human rights concerns overseas.
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25 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Education : Environment : International : Politics
The Martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero: 25 Years Later
St+Oscar+Megalomartyr.jpg“If they kill me, I will be resurrected in the Salvadoran people.” – Archbishop Romero.

“The sad truth is that on March. 24th very few people in the U.S. will be commemorating the martyrdom of Archbishop Romero… because very few people care, and very few people know...,” - Noam Chomsky, before a packed audience at Hope Church in Jamaica Plain two weeks ago.

Archbishop Romero was a powerful voice for the poor and oppressed in El Salvador who openly spoke out against U.S.-funded government repression and mass-murder. Such preaching made him a target of U.S.-trained paramilitary death squads in his country. On March 24th, 1980, a week after the Archbishop gave a fiery sermon where he openly called for militiamen to defy their leaders and put down their weapons, he was gunned down by an assassin while he presided over mass. The following Sunday, forty more people were killed when paramilitaries interrupted the Archbishop’s funeral service with explosives and gunfire. The service had amassed thousands of supporters and mourners both in and outside the cathedral who were immediately thrown into a state of panic and chaos. Some were murdered directly from the attacks; many others had died by being trampled amidst the hysteria.
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24 Mar 2005 Modified: 06:14:57 AM | Filed under: Commentary / Human Rights : International
Thousands Rally on Boston Common Against the Occupation of Iraq
Nomore.jpgBoston City Councilor and Anarchist Youth Lead Unpermitted March--Five Unprovoked Arrests

Like many others across the world, on March 20--a global day of action--thousands of Bostonians gathered on the Boston Common to protest the continuing US occupation of Iraq in a rally organized by Boston Mobilization. The crowd size was large enough to make it difficult to estimate, with figures running between two and five thousand. Local activists, veterans of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and those with loved ones in the military spoke out powerfully against the war, mixed with a multicultural cast of musicians. The plan had been to close the rally with direct action, blockading the entrance to a near-by military recruiting station. In response, the military recruiting station simply never opened for the day. Instead, the final speaker, Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, urged everyone still at the rally (a couple hundred people--the rally ran far over time) to join an unpermitted march originally planned by a group of young anarchists. The march snaked through the streets of downtown Boston before returning to Boston Common. There, some of the police began unprovoked attacks on activists, shoving people to the ground and arresting five. A stand-off ensued, with the police eventually pulling back. Plans are underway, with the support of Turner and Boston Mobilization, to support those arrested in court. The day’s actions managed to at least temporarily unite members of Boston's progressive community across some of the racial, ideological and generational lines that often divide them.

[UPDATE 3/28/05: Two of the detained activists, were later released without charges. Only the other three were officially arrested.]
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20 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : International : Organizing : Social Welfare
"Bloodbath" at Roslindale Military Recruiting Center
close-kelly-splat.jpgBOSTON – On the second anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a group of local activists staged a dramatic protest outside the Armed Forces Recruiting Center at 650 American Legion Highway in Roslindale. At noon, the Boston Direct Action Project dumped five gallons of fake blood and then took up positions on the doorstep. The activists portrayed a dead Iraqi woman, her grieving husband, a dead U.S. soldier and his grieving wife.

The action lasted 90 minutes, and there were no arrests. The blood flowed forty feet into the parking lot, attracting scores of local residents. The community was largely supportive, and many onlookers stopped to talk to members of the Project, who handed out informational flyers with suggested alternatives to military service.
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19 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : International
The Cavernous Divide: More Billionaires, More Poverty
Two magazine covers stood out in poignant contrast on newsstands last week. Forbes magazine released its 29th annual listing of the world’s billionaires. Time Magazine’s cover story wondered “How to End Poverty.”

It was a good year for the global billionaires’ club. Their ranks grew to 691, up 17 percent from the previous year. Collectively, the wealth of the world’s billionaires reached $2.2 trillion, up more than 57 percent over the last two years.

Poverty is growing as well. Time reports that nearly half of the world’s 6 billion residents are poor. Over one billion of them subsist on less than $1 a day. In the United States, according to the US Census Bureau, the number of impoverished Americans rose 3.7 percent in 2003. The number of children living in poverty rose 6.6 percent.
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18 Mar 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Labor : Social Welfare
Palestinian Rights Protest at Caterpillar's offices in Milford, Mass.
withcat.jpgOn the second anniversary of the killing of American Human Rights worker Rachel Corrie by an Israeli soldier with a Caterpillar Bulldozer, the BootCat Campaign held a protest at Caterpillar’s Milford MA, offices. A group of about 65 human rights activists, including Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD, www.icahd.org), gathered to protest the company’s sale of bulldozers to the Israeli military despite concerns that the Israeli military is using the equipment in violation of International and American law to destroy Palestinian homes, uproot orchards, and expand Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.
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16 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : International
Letter from Imprisoned Member of the CIPO-RFM
A letter from an imprisoned member of the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca-Ricardo Flores Magon. The CIPO-RFM is a Magonista organization of indigenous and non indigenous people in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Check out the website for more info, and contact the Boston Friends of the CIPO-RFM if you'd like to help them continue their struggle.
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16 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : International
Boston Wants More Sensible Transportation
TRUFare2000.jpgIn Chicago, London and Bogotá, more cyclists are using the roads, and the roads are more accommodating to cyclists than ever before. Yet in Boston, Massachusetts, traffic jams and dangerous streets prevail. Advocates for better conditions for cyclists in Boston have had limited success in the past several decades, and a consensus is building about the need to update our strategies for change.

Boston area transit advocates are livid over the state's attempts to weasel its way out of commitments made two decades ago to expand public transit as a requirement for building the $15 billion dollar central artery highway. Fred Salvucci, the former state transportation chief who championed the Big Dig, recently told the Boston Globe, "We always knew that this thing would create a very brief improvement and things would recongest if we did not improve public transportation." Bicycling and pedestrian advocates, too, are disappointed that little money and attention has been allocated to their modes.
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14 Mar 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Environment : Technology
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