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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
Boston's Food Not Bombs still truckin' after 25 years
P1010021.JPGBack in 1980, resourceful people in Cambridge realized that their local grocery stores and farmer's markets threw out an incredible amount of food...tons. After a night at the Haymarket Farmer's Market, for example, a giant truck would literally have to plow the food the unsold fruits and vegetables into an enormous trash heap. Dumpsters at local supermarkets contained food that was only cosmetically damaged. The line between food on the shelf and food in the trash was very thin...perfectly edible food was being wasted to a mind-boggling degree.
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14 Mar 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Social Welfare
Book Review: “The Freedom” by Christian Parenti
The Freedom.jpgChristian Parenti went to Iraq and brought back a vivid description of what war in the 21st Century looks like without makeup. He calls it “The Freedom.”

Essentially, this is the story of occupied Iraq from a layperson’s perspective. The language is easy to read, casually littered with expletives. Brutal honesty provides a sense of how bizarre and surreal a war zone must be. Iraqis constantly explain to Parenti how grateful they are for their new “freedoms,” such as the freedom to languish for hours in 120-degree heat at US military checkpoints, the freedom to live in a country now covered with depleted uranium and people with cancer, and the freedom to be without work, electricity or water most of the time.

Journeying into the heart of hell with a forged Canadian press pass, Parenti parties with NGO staffers while bombs fall and embeds with both the US military and the Iraqi resistance. Refreshingly, he neglects any pretension of objectivity. His opposition to the occupation comes across freely. This book is thrilling to read and important as a documentary history of the war; but it offers a rather simple version of both the US government’s objectives for creating war in Iraq and the consequences this will have.
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11 Mar 2005 | Filed under: Review / International
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