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Reports from the struggle

December 6, 2002 | Pages 10 and 11

World AIDS Day
Speaking out against war
Protest Dinesh D'Souza

Abolish the death penalty

By Juliana Karr

WASHINGTON--Anti-death penalty activists held a regional organizing meeting last month of more than 40 people at Georgetown University to gear up for the challenges ahead. Abolitionists from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia and from several area campuses were in attendance.

Mike Stark, regional organizer for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, began the meeting by laying out the political climate in the wake of the sniper case. That has produced an opportunity to expose regional politicians for drumming up fear and shopping the case around in the hopes of getting a capital conviction--and wanting to send a juvenile to death row.

At the meeting, activists enthusiastically called for an all-out effort to hold on to the moratorium that we won in Maryland, despite Governor-elect Bob Ehrlich's promise to overturn it and reinstate executions as soon as he takes office.

"Elected officials respond to the political environment," said Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly Salima Siler Marriott. Even though outgoing Gov. Parris Glendening has denied that he launched a study of racism on Maryland's death row as a response to public outcry, "none of this happened in isolation from the movement," said Marriott.

A Town Hall meeting addressing issues surrounding the sniper case will take place December 3 at George Washington University. And activists also decided to hold a press conference about Maryland's moratorium and to organize a protest in Annapolis on the evening of Ehrlich's inauguration. As Delegate Marriott put it to a hearty round of applause, "Bob Ehrlich, you wanna' fight? Let's get it on!"

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World AIDS Day

By Sarah Wolf

WASHINGTON, D.C.--More than 200 people marched here November 26, chanting "Money for AIDS, not for war." March organizers demanded that the U.S. government contribute $2.5 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria--an amount that certainly pales next to the Pentagon's bloated budget of more than $400 billion.

Demonstrators, many of whom work for or with agencies that directly service low-income people with AIDS, came from up and down the East Coast to take part in the action a few days before World AIDS Day. They brought with them firsthand knowledge of the misery that Bush's policies are causing.

"Homelessness is getting more and more out of hand," said John Salbey of New York City. "Rent is so high that no one can afford it. We desperately need more affordable housing."

Some expressed hope that Bush would come to understand our point of view and "cough up a fair share," as one speaker put it. Other demonstrators, however, noted that Bush's willingness to drop bombs on Iraq's population for the sake of oil profits might be related to his unwillingness to spend money for AIDS treatment and prevention.

Our government needs a whole new set of priorities--one in which, as Jonathan Cohen of New York put it, money is spent "to alleviate crises worldwide rather than perpetuating them."

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Speaking out against war

By Yusef Michaels

NEW YORK--About 700 people came November 18 to hear Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for Britain's Independent newspaper and author of the highly acclaimed book Pity the Nation.

Fisk's talk was titled "September 11: Ask Who Did It But for Heaven's Sake Don't Ask Why." He addressed American journalism's failure to deal with critical issues pertaining to the Middle East.

He began by saying that George Bush's manipulation of people's grief after September 11 has nothing to do with justice and spoke of how Bush is aiming to reshape the map of the Middle East. But when it comes to what happened in New York and Washington, the one thing that politicians and the U.S. media consider out-of-bounds is looking look for a motive, according to Fisk.

Fisk also talked about the political motive behind the White House's use of the term "Disputed Territories" instead of "Occupied Territories" to refer to the West Bank and Gaza. He showed scenes from his films about how Palestinians have been driven off their lands to make room for Israeli settlements. "Let's not call it ethnic cleansing when it's genocide, let's not call them neighborhoods when they're settlements," he said.

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Protest Dinesh D'Souza

By Kris Jenson

BURLINGTON, Vt.--College Republicans and the Inter-Residence Association at the University of Vermont brought right-winger Dinesh D'Souza to campus November 11. D'Souza--whose speech was called "Why They Hate Us: America and Its Enemies"--was met by about 80 demonstrators from several campus organizations.

D'Souza is the author of several books, including The End of Racism, which asserts that racism no longer exists, and Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader. His articles praise colonialism for bringing civilization to the Third World.

The picket attracted a vocal audience of demonstrators, who shouted chants of "Take your hate out of our state," "This is what democracy looks like, Dinesh is what hypocrisy looks like," and "Gay, straight, black, white! Same struggle, same fight!"

Following this, the applause for D'Souza was drowned out by the boos and hisses, mostly from those who had remained silent during the speech.

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