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News :: International
March 19-20 ‘International Days of Action’ to demand: End the occupation now!
15 Feb 2005
On March 19-20 a broad united front of anti-war individuals and organizations will demonstrate across the globe for internationally coordinated days of anti-war actions.
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March 19-20 ‘International Days of Action’ to demand:
‘Money for people’s needs, not the Pentagon’

By Bryan G. Pfeifer

As the Bush administration continues its war on the people of Iraq and millions of others in the United States and internationally, antiwar and progressive activists, organizations, and coalitions are responding with multiple and varied acts of resistance.

On March 19-20 this broad united front will demonstrate across the globe for internationally coordinated days of anti-war actions.

The largest U.S. action will take place at New York City’s Central Park Saturday, March 19. The planned march and rally, organized by the Out Now! coalition, is demanding an immediate end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, that the troops be brought home now, and that money be used for people’s needs not war (www.troopsoutnow.org).

Another March 19 march and rally with similar demands will take place in Fayetteville, North Carolina at Fort Bragg sponsored by Military Families Speak Out (www.mfso.org).

In Massachusetts a March 20 anti-war march and rally will take place in Boston (www.iacboston.org).

To date over 100,000 Iraqis and 1,453 U.S troops have died in Iraq and thousands more have been injured. Social costs in Iraq and the environmental destruction including the devastation caused by the use of depleted uranium and other toxic substances are incalculable.

Domestic war

The momentum for the March 19-20 actions are growing internationally in light of the Bush administration’s demand on Feb. 14 that Congress hand over $82 billion more for the continuing occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Pentagon adventures.

“These budget cuts are a declaration of war on the cities of the U.S.-- on the lives of working and oppressed peoples,” said Sara Flounders, co-director of the International Action Center and an Out Now! coalition organizer. “And they underscore the importance of mobilizing for protests on March 19 -- the second anniversary of the Pentagon-led war against the Iraqi people.”

In early February Bush submitted an overall $2.57 trillion budget for fiscal 2006 to Congress. That budget outlined cuts for or elimination of a wide swath of government programs mostly benefiting the children, people of color, seniors, women and the working poor. Spending on the military, the biggest part of discretionary spending, would rise by 4.8 percent in 2006 to $419.3 billion. This DOES NOT include the Feb. 14 $82 billion request.

More than 150 government programs are on the chopping block.

Medicaid would be significantly reduced, capping federal payments for many who rely on the program for survival. That health safety net faces $60 billion in cuts over the next decade. Other health coverage programs for the poor and disabled are in danger. And medical fees and a drug co-payment would be hiked for veterans.

Educational programs would lose $528 million, leaving 48 educational programs unfunded -- including a $1.2-billion vocational-educational program. Aid that helps homeless children enroll in public school would be reduced.
The Environmental Protection Agency would have its budget reduced $326-million directly impacting its work on clean air, clear water and Superfund clean-up programs.

In contrast, the defense budget would increase five percent increase and the Department of Homeland Security another three percent.

The White House also wants Congress to give another $18 million total in 2006-07 to the Department of Energy to complete research on a new generation of "bunker-buster" weapons that may be nuclear as well.

These new requests are on top of the billions already spent on the Iraq war.

According to the September 2004 report, “A Failed Transition: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War,” by the Institute for Policy Studies which used various statistics from the Northampton, Massachusetts-based National Priorities Project:

“The Bush administration's combination of massive spending on the war and tax cuts for the wealthy means less money for social spending,” reads “A Failed Transition.”

The report continues: “The $151.1 billion expenditure for the war through this year could have paid for: close to 23 million housing vouchers; health care for over 27 million uninsured Americans; salaries for nearly 3 million elementary school teachers; 678,200 new fire engines; over 20 million Head Start slots for children; or health care coverage for 82 million children. A leaked memo from the White House to domestic agencies outlines major cuts following the election, including funding for education, Head Start, home ownership, job training, medical research and homeland security.”

According to Nick Camerota, a professor at Springfield Technical Community College and a member of the Western Mass International Action Center, this is what makes the March 19-20 actions absolutely necessary.

“The only solution is to continue building a powerful anti-war, anti-racist movement that won't be easily intimidated. President Bush -- who got to the White House by stealing the African American vote in Florida, Ohio and elsewhere -- is now calling for an endless war against working class and oppressed people all over the world,” said Camerota.

Momentum growing

More than 20 organizing centers, from the East Coast to the Midwest, are mobilizing to bring people to the protests -- particularly the march and rally in Central Park in Manhattan. Buses, car caravans and feeder marches are in the works.

From UMass-Amherst, members from the UMass Anti-War coalition and other campus organizations will attend. (Email the coalition at: wtodd (at) soc.umass.edu)

The list of endorsers for the New York action is growing daily and includes: Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Artists and Activists United for Peace, Casa de las Américas, Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General, Leslie Feinberg, the Haiti Support Network, the Million Worker March and Howard Zinn.

According to Flounders, at the recent World Social Forum which took place in Brazil Jan. 26-31, individuals and organizations world-wide are planning hundreds of actions in dozens of countries for March 19-20. These include anti-war actions in: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela.

Camerota said his organization is receiving transportation requests daily, has one bus almost to capacity and is considering renting another based on increasing demand.

“We're not going to let Bush and his right-wing gang -- with the complicity of the Democratic Party and Congress -- tear up the constitution, open up a war on political dissent, and stop the very necessary international movement against his war-mongering, pro-rich madness.”

Locally the American Friends Service Committee, the Northampton Committee to Stop the War in Iraq and the Western Mass International Action Center, among other anti-war organizations are organizing transportation to Central Park. Call (413) 896-5219 or email wmassiac (at) hotmail.com for more information.

Bryan G. Pfeifer is a M.S. candidate in the Labor Studies Department at UMass-Amherst and a member of the Graduate Employee Organization, UAW Local 2322 (GEO) and the UMass Anti-War coalition.

-- 30 --

(c) 2005 Bryan G. Pfeifer. Article may be used in full or in part provided full attribution is given to author.

Union labor donated.
See also:
http://www.troopsoutnow.org
http://www.iacenter.org

This work is in the public domain
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Comments

Re: March 19-20 ‘International Days of Action’ to demand: End the occupation now!
16 Feb 2005
Anyone notice that ANSWER seems to have disappeared from the scene in Boston, to be replaced by its predecessor, the International Action Center, and a new "Out Now!" coalition? Has there been intrigue among Workers World from groups?
Re: March 19-20 ‘International Days of Action’ to demand: End the occupation now!
17 Feb 2005
I think all that's going on is that Workers World Party just makes a practice of replacing its front groups regularly, once people catch on that it's a front group. Before ANSWER, there was the International Action Center. Before the IAC, there was the National People's Campaign. Before that, there was some other group I don't remember, but you get the idea.

On the other hand, I think there was a split in ANSWER/WWP recently. The California branch--which apparently has always had a better working relationship with other activist groups than the rest of ANSWER/WWP--was purged. They didn't think it made tactical sense for WWP to run its own candidates in the last presidential election because too many of the people they were working with and hoped to recruit were behind Kerry as the lesser of two evils. So they got booted from the party.
Re: March 19-20 ‘International Days of Action’ to demand: End the occupation now!
17 Feb 2005
Interesting. What do you know about how the Boston ANSWER/Workers World folks came out in the split? And where did you hear about it--is anything written up?
Re: March 19-20 ‘International Days of Action’ to demand: End the occupation now!
18 Feb 2005
The fact that Sara Flounders, a key Worker's World organizer, was quoted above and described as "co-director of the International Action Center" leads me to the over-whelming assumption that Boston IAC or ANSWER or whatever has yet to defect from their Stalinist puppeteers. I suggest doing a Sara Flounders namesearch or any search for that matter through the archives of the WWP website and you can idea of the kind of dictator-friendly Stalinist she is. I'd provide a direct link but you can just get it if you look in the first photo above theres an IAC protest sign stacked directly on top of an anti-Imperialist sign which is small letters at the bottom advertises the Workers World website, which also leads me to my assumption I wrote above.
Re: March 19-20 ‘International Days of Action’ to demand: End the occupation now!
19 Feb 2005
Yeah, I think the Boston folks are still part of WWP--they didn't get purged. As for where I heard about it, word of mouth initially. There was also something about it on infoshop.org. Needless to say, there's nothing about it on the WWP website.