News and reports
October 1, 2004 | Pages 10 and 11
Housing is a right
MADISON, Wis.--A rally to "Save Our Services" in Dane County attracted more than 200 participants September 23. Members from groups at the University of Wisconsin, including the Madison Warming Center Campaign, voiced concern over deteriorating services to the poor and handicapped.
In a city with an estimated 2,000 homeless people on any given night, 700 of whom are children, the city has just 300 shelter beds. This means that more than 400 children are forced to sleep on the streets!
With a vacancy rate of 6.5 percent in Madison, and a Democratic mayor who is pushing a "business-friendly" image, this injustice must not be allowed to continue. As the city gets set to vote on next year's budget on October 1, it's important that we continue letting local politicians know that people are more important than corporations, and that we will not stop fighting until all of our human rights are accounted for.
CHICAGO--The Campaign to End the Death Penalty held an informational picket September 24 at Cook County Courthouse for members of the Death Row 10, victims of Chicago police torture. Supporters then attended the hearings of Cortez Brown, Derrick King and Ronald Kitchen. All three were previously on death row based on coerced confessions and are now serving life without the possibility of parole.
In Cortez Brown's case, the prosecution has moved to dismiss his post-conviction petition, despite the fact that new information related to his allegations of torture has never been heard in court. At a press conference, activists questioned why the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is pressing for this petition to be dismissed. "It is time for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to stand up for those long oppressed by beatings, torture at the hands of the police, wrongful conviction and unjust imprisonment. It is time to free Cortez Brown," said Rev. Larry Turpin.
On the same day, the Peoples Law Office filed in federal court to depose Mayor Richard Daley and former police commander Jon Burge for a civil lawsuit against the city of Chicago Citing a memo from 1985, lawyers wish to question Daley about what he knew about the allegations of torture.
RALPH NADER hit the campaign trail in late September, celebrating a ballot access victory in Maryland while vowing to challenge his removal from the ballot in Oregon. The Oregon Supreme Court on September 22 upheld a decision by the Oregon Secretary of State--a supporter of John Kerry--disqualifying thousands of signatures.
Although there is going to be an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, time is running out as ballots have to be printed shortly. "This is a sad day for democracy in America," said Nader. "It is evident that our independent presidential campaign has greatly stressed a corrupt exclusionary system, and that the Democratic Party will stop at nothing to deny voters the opportunity to vote for our candidacy.
"They would rather limit voters' choices--in an attempt to force them to vote for a candidate they do not believe in and do not support or stay at home in disgust. The anti-democratic approach of the Democratic Party is weakening a democracy already rendered anemic."
Across the country, Nader appeared with his running mate, Peter Camejo, at a rally at the University of Maryland, where the newly formed Populist Party has endorsed their candidacy. More than 750 people turned out for the event despite a protest called by Kerry supporters.
Camejo got loud applause for his sharp condemnation of the war and occupation of Iraq--and big laughs at the expense of Kerry. He called the 2004 race "the most peculiar election in U.S. history" because Kerry supporters claim that Kerry is lying when he supports the occupation of Iraq and takes other conservative positions.
Nader also spoke at length about U.S. foreign policy--not only about Iraq, but the unquestioning support for Israel by both Republican and Democratic politicians. Urging the largely student audience to commit themselves to social change, he said that "if you're not into politics, politics will be into you in a most disagreeable way."
WASHINGTON--Top finance officials from the Group of Seven club of rich countries will meet October 1 to discuss measures that affect the lives of millions around the world. And on October 2 and 3, the global loan sharks of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) will gather to figure out how best to serve these powerful governments.
Nowhere in these meetings will the victims of the "Washington model" of neoliberalism get their say. That's why global justice organizations are calling for demonstrations to protest the meetings--and draw attention to the real issues.
In 2002, developing countries received $58 billion in loans and development "aid." Yet that same year, more than five times that amount was drained out of the world's poorest countries--in payments to service their unpayable debts. Demonstrators want to point out the connections between the neoliberal agenda and the disaster of Washington's war on Iraq--with a protest that will gather at Arlington National Cemetery and then march to the White House.
For more information, visit sept.globalizethis.org on the Web.