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News and reports

September 7, 2007 | Pages 14 and 15

Newark, N.J., antiwar march
No more ICE raids
Protesting Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Newark, N.J., antiwar march
By Chris Dugan

NEWARK, N.J.--On August 25, the People's March here commemorated the 44th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; the 40th anniversary of the Newark rebellion; and the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

More than 1,000 people turned out to demand that funding for the war be redirected toward domestic needs. The march was the largest in Newark in decades and was organized by the People's Organization for Progress. Participants included members of Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, the Nation Of Islam, the Troops Out Now Coalition, United For Peace and Justice, United Food and Commercial Workers and many others.

The call for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney was the most visible demand of the march. This message was made strikingly clear when U.S. Rep. John Conyers--who had Cindy Sheehan and 46 others arrested in his office in July when they demanded that he begin impeachment hearings--opened his speech with the question "What do we want?" Apparently, he expected "Peace"--but he was greeted with a cry of "Impeachment" instead.

Billie Spaight, who came to the march with the group Health Care-Now, spoke about how we "live in a messed-up society more concerned with killing than helping people."

Margaret Stevens, national treasurer of Iraq Veterans Against the War, inspired numerous standing ovations while addressing the crowd in which she spoke about the links between the struggle to end the war, health care, immigrant rights and the international character of these struggles.

As Margaret later explained, "The main point I wanted to communicate was that 'ending the war' in Iraq would not be addressing the root of the problem; namely, global competition for control of the world's oil resources...

"So much of the antiwar movement is based around the moral sentiment that U.S. soldiers are being mistreated, which is--of course--accurate. And yet, there's this larger fact that U.S. soldiers are committing genocide in Iraq and we need to combat this racist, genocidal war because it hurts people the world over."

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No more ICE raids
By Shane Johnson

FAIRFIELD, Ohio--On short notice, a dozen activists organized to oppose a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a Koch Foods, a poultry packaging facility here.

An army of more than 300 local and federal officers swarmed the plant around 10 on August 29. Some workers tried to hide in a sub-zero freezer in an effort to escape the raid and had to be treated for hypothermia. In all, ICE arrested approximately 160 workers from Koch Foods, making it one of the largest raids of the year.

According to Forbes magazine, Koch, an anti-union company, had revenues of $1.4 billion in 2005. Yet days after the raid, it was revealed by state officials that the raid cost the state of Ohio a staggering $4 million.

Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones announced later that, "If you come to this county, you can't come here and commit a crime and go unscathed." However, the real perpetrators of a crime are those willing to spend $4 million locking up workers for trying to provide for their families.

The Coalición por los Derechos y la Didnidad de los Inmigrantes (Coalition for Immigrant Rights and Dignity) in Cincinnati was instrumental in organizing a rapid response press conference and protest. Activists are now trying to assist the families of those arrested by collecting food, household cleaning supplies, phone cards and money.

Send donations and messages of solidarity to: Butler and Warren County Workers Center, 18 S. 3rd St., Hamilton, OH 45011 or call 513-737-2327.

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Protesting Blue Cross/Blue Shield
By Glenn Allen

CHICAGO--Approximately 50 people rallied outside Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BC/BS) headquarters August 29 to demand single-payer health care reform. This was the first public protest by the newly formed Chicago Single-Payer Action Network (CSPAN).

The picket was loud and spirited. Several BC/BS executives came out and were subjected to chants of "Hey Blue Cross, what do you say, how many claims did you deny today?" and "People over profits, single payer now."

Speakers at the rally included representatives from Physicians for National Health Program, the Progressive Democrats of America, the Green Party, Access Living (a disability-rights organization) and many others. Several speakers called for single-payer health care, cautioning against health care "reform," which includes private insurance.

A statement of solidarity was read from Donna Smith, who is featured in Michael Moore's Sicko. State Representative Mary Flowers also attended the demonstration. Flowers is sponsoring House Bill 311, which would institute single-payer insurance in Illinois.

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